Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is hopeful that Beijing's decision on universal suffrage last month can bring about a climate change in Hong Kong politics, with the end of contention and the beginning of reconciliation. Commenting on the National People's Congress Standing Committee decision, he said: 'Hong Kong is entering a most important chapter in its constitutional history.' Over the past two weekends, in two separate broadcasts ahead of the pro-democracy rally last Sunday, Mr Tsang was at pains to make more appeals to the pan-democrats, and society at large, to embrace the decision on universal suffrage. 'Political progress in Hong Kong is about building trust - trust between the executive branch and Legco; trust between the government and the people of Hong Kong; trust between the HKSAR and the central authorities. Building trust takes much time and effort, and can be easily shattered,' he said. It is easy to see why Mr Tsang has tried to moderate the political atmosphere following the veto of universal suffrage elections for the chief executive and all of the Legislative Council in 2012. With more than half the population supporting the introduction of universal suffrage in 2012, the Standing Committee decision has left them disappointed and frustrated. Such feelings are not conducive to the nurturing of a harmonious and calm socio-political environment, which is vitally important in the next phase of the debate on constitutional reform. Less than three weeks since the NPC decision was announced, the political scene is still engulfed by friction and disharmony. The exact turnout of Sunday's rally may remain inconclusive. Yet, it is clear that the size of the crowd was bigger than expected -given the unfavourable circumstances for the democrats. The feelings of defiance among the crowd will further boost the morale of the pan-democrats, who intend to stand firm on their demand for universal suffrage in 2012. As opinion polls show, there is still a sizeable portion of people who support the continued fight for universal suffrage in 2012. These aspirations will add to the pressure on the democrats not to give up the fight. Aside from pressure from some supporters to stand firm, moderates in the pan-democratic camp will find it doubly hard to push for conciliation and compromise when relations between democrats and the government remain uneasy. More than two years after relations between Mr Tsang and the pan-democrats slumped following the veto of a set of electoral reforms in late 2005, the lingering air of mutual distrust shows no signs of easing. A session between Mr Tsang and the pan-democratic legislators, ahead of the Standing Committee decision, helped little to lessen the political fallout from the ruling. Worse, pan-democrats accused Mr Tsang of staging a political show, without genuinely listening to their views. The fact the session was hastily set up after democrats threatened to protest outside Government House just deepened suspicion about Mr Tsang's desire for dialogue. Now, the banning of Citizens' Radio broadcasts has added to the tension. The decision to prosecute Democrat godfather Szeto Wah for taking part in a Citizens' Radio broadcast is seen by the democrats as a government move to play hardball with what they have labelled as the 'opposition'. Signs that the government will take action against some pan-democratic legislators who spoke at the broadcast, in defiance of a court injunction last week, look set to breed more mistrust and suspicion. With a long-standing row on the boil and a fresh one brewing, relations between the Tsang administration and the democrats are unlikely to improve at least until after the Legco election in September. Chris Yeung is the Post's editor-at-large.