Politicians often make grand promises in election campaigns and forget some of them after taking office. In his policy address yesterday, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen admitted that, midway through his five-year term, not everything had gone as planned. But he had fulfilled most of his election promises, he insisted. After being elected for a second term in 2007, Tsang vowed to 'get the job done' in building Hong Kong as an international financial centre with a harmonious, family-based society. The economy, he has said repeatedly, has always been the issue closest to the public's heart. Many in the pan-democratic camp, however, feel the biggest cheque he has bounced was his 2007 election promise to 'go all out' and resolve once and for all how the chief executive and all lawmakers would be elected under universal suffrage. When Beijing in 2007 ruled out dual universal suffrage for 2012, Tsang claimed it was an unprecedented achievement because the central government had for the first time agreed on a timetable: namely, that Hongkongers could elect their own chief executive in 2017 and lawmakers in 2020. Another unfulfilled promise, from his 2007 speech, saw the deferral of the final round of public consultations on health-care-financing reform, which should have started early this year. Tsang promised to relaunch them in his latest policy address, but Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the issue would probably be left for the next government, along with constitutional reform. 'We cannot say he has achieved nothing when we consider his report card, especially when we look at his election promises in 2007,' Choy said. 'But for highly controversial matters such as universal suffrage and medical insurance, it is unlikely a consensus can be reached in society before 2012.' In the field of governance, relations between the government, the legislature and the central government have not improved significantly despite Tsang's efforts to bridge the gap after taking power in 2005. Critics scoffed at the enlargement of the 'accountability system' with two additional layers of political appointees, saying it mocked Tsang's claims of inclusive governance. Tsang's promise to introduce a competition policy bill in the 2008-09 legislative term, originally seen as a chance to fight allegations of collusion between officials and big businesses, led to nothing. A similar fate befell the promise to ready a bill by 2007 to create a communications authority that would regulate the promotion of competition activities. In his 2007 policy address, Tsang unveiled plans to develop an Islamic bond market in Hong Kong to strengthen the city's status as a financial centre. But two years later, the plan has still not been implemented. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said in his budget speech that a proposal was due for submission to lawmakers on changes to the law on stamp duty, profits tax and property tax arrangements, but it, too, has gone nowhere. However, Donald Tsang can congratulate himself on economic, finance and major infrastructural projects - stimulant policies he relied on to create jobs. The launch of 10 large-scale infrastructure projects that he announced in 2007-08 have been promised within his term. They include rail and road projects such as the South Island Line; urban development projects including the West Kowloon Cultural District; and several new development areas in the New Territories. The chief executive also laid out a plan for cross-border development co-operation, including the Hong Kong-Guangzhou-Shenzhen Express Rail Link, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and a rail connection between Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports. For these, the chief executive should score a pass, so far, as many of them are already on the drawing board. But his claim that these projects could add more than HK$100 billion each year to our economy, and some 250,000 additional jobs, remains to be tested. Co-operation with the mainland has been high on Donald Tsang's agenda, particularly in finance, where he has seen progress. In October 2007 he said the government and the mainland would explore new types of yuan business for Hong Kong. Starting in July, Beijing allowed some mainland firms to settle export and import trade with companies in Hong Kong in yuan rather than foreign currencies. The idea of a new scheme bringing in overseas talents to enrich the city's workforce was promised in his 2005-06 address. He scores another pass for this initiative as it was delivered in June 2006, when the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme came into effect. Critics have been unconvinced by the results of his pledges to create family-friendly policies, and the limited improvement in education. But people must admit a marked change in the government's attitude towards heritage conservation. After high-profile protests against the demolition of the old Central Star Ferry Pier in 2006, Tsang, in his 2007 address, recognised people were passionate about heritage conservation. His promise to consider the impact on the city's cultural and built heritage in the policymaking process has borne fruit. Although the speed and detail of individual projects still draws criticism, the saving of several historical buildings from demolition has received the thumbs-up. Since 2005 Donald Tsang has consistently said environmental protection is one of his top priorities, but green groups say his efforts have been half-baked at best. Hahn Chu Hon-keung, environmental affairs manager of Friends of the Earth, said significant progress in some areas - including the long-debated tax to reduce the use of plastic bags, introduced in July - were 'leftover initiatives Tsang has harvested' from his predecessors. 'Despite his promise to tackle the worsening air quality in his 2006 policy address, we didn't see any significant and concrete improvements except slogan-shouting by government officials,' Chu said, citing the Action Blue Sky Campaign and failure to set acceptable carbon emission targets. Even before the economy slumped last year, Donald Tsang had often pledged to improve the general public's livelihood. But on the issue of implementing a minimum wage and standard working hours - first mentioned in his 2005 policy address - critics said the bill now being scrutinised by Legco would please neither bosses nor workers. Whether the final wage level is set at the HK$33 per hour demanded by unionists or the HK$24 proposed by the Liberal Party, Donald Tsang can claim that he has fulfilled his task of introducing a concept fiercely opposed by the business sector in the past decade.