The election of Tsang Yok-sing as president of the Legislative Council was a formality. The pro-government majority ensured he would win comfortably. Getting elected, however, was the easy part. The task that lies ahead for the veteran leftist and DAB stalwart as Legco's presiding officer is a tough one. Mr Tsang has large shoes to fill. He succeeds Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, who won the respect of all sides of the chamber. Though Mrs Fan came to the job with no political affiliation, she was close to Beijing. That did not prevent her from doing a good job. Expectations of Mr Tsang are therefore high. The president has a crucial part to play in maintaining public confidence in the legislature's role as a check and balance on the government. Mr Tsang brings to his office experience and stature. He is a respected figure, and his lack of political independence is not a problem in itself. It is not unusual for the presiding officers of legislatures around the world to remain party members. What is important is that they abide by the traditions of the office and exercise their procedural authority over the legislature in a fair and neutral way. Mr Tsang's background will make it more difficult for him to be perceived as neutral. But this can be overcome if, as president, he conducts himself in accordance with the finest traditions of the role. A strong but fair president is needed, especially as there are a few lawmakers among the current crop who can be expected to give him trouble. Mr Tsang will have to strike a balance between not unduly restricting debate and upholding the dignity of the chamber. He must show he is able to transcend party political considerations. It was wrong of Mr Tsang to say initially that he was inclined to continue exercising his right to vote in Legco. This is an important convention. Sensibly, he later accepted he should abide by it. He comes to office during troubled times for the world that will be reflected in Legco's business. Lawmakers from major parties have predicted that contentious issues will lead to tense relations with the government. The question of whether Mr Tsang is a member of the Chinese Communist Party was raised again yesterday - and he has still refused to answer it, arguing that Hong Kong is not yet ready to debate this issue. Certainly, it has been a sensitive one historically for our city. But 11 years after the handover it should be possible to debate the question of the Communist Party rationally. It is, after all, the governing party of China. The party may have many members here who have not declared their membership. People should be judged by their actions, rather than any party membership. This should apply to Mr Tsang as he embarks on his new role as Legco president.