Leaders must expect to face politically loaded questions. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen should have been prepared for one about June 4 in the Legislative Council yesterday. After all, the 20th anniversary of the military crackdown on the student-led democracy movement in Beijing is less than three weeks away. Whether in conscience he supported vindication of the movement was a question that called on all the experience of a seasoned political veteran for an appropriate response. In his position, he has to be sensitive to public opinion in Hong Kong and, at the same time, mindful of the central government's view of history. He could not afford to be seen to offend one or contradict the other. Yet he failed, prompting angry scenes and a walkout from the chamber by outraged democrats. Mr Tsang said the June 4 incident happened a long time ago. China had since made proud achievements and brought prosperity to this city, he said, and he believed Hong Kong people could make an objective assessment of the nation's development. This is controversial enough in a city that still makes headlines every year with a vigil in memory of the June 4 victims. Inexplicably, Mr Tsang then made matters worse by adding: 'My view represents the overall opinion of Hong Kong people.' There is little evidence to support that assessment, and much to contradict it. There is no obvious reason to suppose a serious erosion of support for calls for Beijing to reverse the official verdict on June 4 - that it was a counter-revolutionary rebellion. Mr Tsang was at best presumptuous, at worst offensive. It is difficult to understand how he came to make such a mistake. There was no need to claim that his view is that of Hong Kong people. He must be aware that many people hold views on the crackdown contrary to Beijing's stance. To his credit, Mr Tsang soon issued an apology for any 'misunderstanding', saying he did not mean to say that his views represented those of all Hong Kong people. It was important that he did so, given that he reiterated his belief that, in time, Hong Kong people would 'formulate an objective assessment of the development of the nation and the June 4 incident'. While he is entitled to the view that such materialistic pragmatism will prevail over conscience and principle, he should have realised that this is an affront to many people. Through his gaffe, Mr Tsang has unwittingly gone to the heart of the June 4 question. It is, indeed, a long time ago. China has since made great strides and is now a vastly different place. But those events 20 years ago had a huge impact on our nation, and they live long in the memory. Just because the country has moved on does not mean that differences over what happened before and after tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square to crush a peaceful protest can be swept under the carpet. Having made such astonishing progress, China should now be mature and confident enough to face up to this dark chapter in its history and come to terms with the truth. It will not go away any time soon. Interest in the 20th anniversary, and Beijing's sensitivity about it, show that there are some wounds that time will not heal. Ironically, the publication this week of the secret memoir of late Communist Party general secretary Zhao Ziyang , a key figure in the events of June 4 who was purged for sympathising with the students in the square, will revive interest in that tragically momentous time. It is also a reminder that the official verdict still troubles many among China's friends and that there remains a contrary view.