Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's administration has yet to deliver on his promise of strong governance, former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said yesterday. Mrs Ip said the government faced an 'unenviable predicament' because it lacked a popular mandate. This gave rise to a 'them and us syndrome' that worked against efforts to forge a new social compact with the people. As a result, it often became hostage to public opinion instead of leading it, said Mrs Ip, who chairs her own think-tank, the Savantas Policy Institute. The institute is considered a vehicle for her to re-enter politics. Expectations that she would contest the Hong Kong Island constituency next year were raised when it opened a community centre in Pok Fu Lam last month. Speaking at a function organised by the alumni associations of the University of Hong Kong and the University of Science and Technology, Mrs Ip said Hongkongers were becoming convinced that the government should be chosen by universal suffrage. She said people wanted officials to be accountable for policies, but the situation had become worse after the introduction of the ministerial system. 'The public and the media, no matter if it is a small or a big issue, they want officials to be accountable,' she said, adding that this gave rise to a culture of blame which increased the constraints officials faced when pushing policies. A second factor affecting governance was that the government could not get the support of the Legislative Council, which Mrs Ip described as 'a bastion of opposition voices'. Without the long-term and consistent support of a political party there, the government would always have difficulty getting Legco support for its policies. Another reason, she said, was the rise of populism and the belief that government policies should be based on the public's wishes. As a result, professional views were not respected in consultative committees, reducing the effectiveness of the committees as promoters of better governance. The final factor cited by Mrs Ip was people's increasing use of judicial reviews to challenge policies they did not like. The courts also had to handle issues concerning the limits of jurisdiction of the judiciary, she noted.