Politics is the art of compromise. During the past few weeks, few have understood this infallible law better than Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's future leader, who has been busy forming his core team. One major consideration he has had to make is how many people from Donald Tsang Yam-keun's administration to keep. The South China Morning Post has been told by one source that Leung's two top future aides - the chief secretary and financial secretary - 'have been confirmed, if no surprises happen'. The result is 'a compromise involving a number of different considerations', according to the source. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor - currently secretary of development, and the most popular among all senior officials - will be the next chief secretary, according to the source. Current finance chief John Tsang Chun-wah will remain at his post. Making Lam the second female chief secretary - after Anson Chan Fang On-sang, who held the post during Chris Patten's tenure as governor - was expected by many. Lam has a good reputation with the public for decisiveness and effectiveness, and has long been highly appreciated by Leung. But keeping John Tsang - who not only has been dubbed a 'true brother' of Donald Tsang, but is also well known for his strong belief in Milton Friedman's theory of an absolutely free economy - is not seen as a natural fit by many. Before accepting his appointment from Premier Wen Jiabao this month, Leung said he would look for people who 'are capable and share my vision'. Lam surely meets those qualifications. But for John Tsang, other factors influenced Leung. One is Beijing's wish for a smooth transition; another is the fear of a financial crisis due to uncertainties in the US and Europe. Whether Tsang agrees with Leung's more interventionist approach towards the economy may be secondary to the chief-executive-elect. Leung appears to have persuaded Beijing to accept his favourite, Carrie Lam, as his number two. She would replace Stephen Lam Sui-lung, whose low popularity is obviously his major obstacle. But if Leung 'takes' he has to 'give', which is to keep Tsang. As for Stephen Lam, who Beijing initially wanted to stay, he may have to go unless he is willing to take a less senior post. There was speculation that the legally trained Lam would be a candidate for secretary of justice, but it's understood that Leung prefers someone more popular. To be practical, as long as the two top aides, Carrie Lam and Tsang, are confirmed, it looks beneficial to all parties. It would not be easy for Leung to find a well recognised candidate for finance chief outside the government in just a few months. Tsang has experience in handling financial policies and has good connections in international finance. So for Leung, why not signal the public, especially the civil servants, that the new chief executive is willing to work with someone who does not belong to his circle? This would comfort Beijing, too. However, though his title will remain financial secretary, Tsang's job description will be significantly different. He will have his usual duties, such as preparing the annual budget, making economic and financial policies, and supervising regulation of the city's financial institutions. But he will also oversee the new Housing Bureau, a job that will be Leung's top priority. Whether this is a trust or a test remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the financial secretary will have a deputy whose major task is to liaise with mainland ministers and provincial and municipal heads to promote closer economic co-operation. The deputy finance secretary is to cultivate a Greater China market to further develop Hong Kong's pillar industries. If there is a more active government role here, Tsang will not be the key player. Leung's future cabinet will be a mixed team, with old and new faces. This may be Leung's compromise with Beijing to have a 'stable transition', but it may also be a political reality he has to accept. All the principle officials need Beijing's approval. Forming a governing team is different from having a campaign team full of your own people. A leader needs to be broad-minded enough to keep certain key people, even those he lacks a close personal relationship with. The real challenge for Leung is not who to keep, but to put the right person in the right position.