Lawmakers yesterday passed an overwhelming vote of no confidence in two top housing officials following a series of public housing scandals. At the end of a 4.5-hour debate, members voted in favour of the Democrat-sponsored motion by 39 to nine, with six abstentions. An amendment moved by unionist Leung Yiu-chung to call for the resignation of Housing Authority chairwoman Rosanna Wong Yick-ming and Director of Housing Tony Miller was defeated. Ms Wong had already tendered her resignation last Saturday. Speaking to reporters after the debate, Mr Miller vowed to stay on to push ahead with long-overdue reforms of the Housing Department, which he has headed for the past three years, and rebuild confidence in public housing. 'I have no intention of resigning on the basis of political factors or other pressure. As a non-political civil servant, one can resign only on a matter of principle or belief.' Breaking the silence he has maintained since the motion was first mooted, Mr Miller described the resignation of Ms Wong as a 'tragedy' and 'a loss not only to ourselves but to society as a whole'. Ms Wong said in a statement she fully supported Mr Miller and was confident the reforms would succeed. Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang said she was saddened the pair had virtually been 'put on public trial in a manner that has potentially damaging effects on the governance of the SAR'. She spoke out against targeting particular people in debates. 'Are we looking for solutions, or are we simply determined to make somebody pay? Do we want to find the fastest and most effective way to get our public housing programme back on track and restore public confidence in it, or do we want to see heads roll? First Ms Wong, then Mr Miller: who is next?' Mrs Chan maintained housing officials had never wanted to cover up the problems in housing and had been determined to launch reforms. 'Now, having unearthed the evidence for the prosecution, so to speak, Ms Wong and Mr Miller find themselves in the dock. Is this fair?' She said she shared the views of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa that the pair should stay in their posts. As Ms Wong had already quit, Mrs Chan said it was even more important for Mr Miller to remain. Conceding the present system of government was 'not ideal', she said: 'Let us not make it worse. Let us stick by the rules of the game until they are changed, and staff are aware of the changes. As a responsible administration, we cannot unilaterally seek to impose political responsibilities on senior officials.' Mrs Chan admitted it would be difficult to find a successor to Ms Wong and warned of 'disincentives for public-spirited citizens to take up important positions which may result in them being pilloried in the court of public opinion'. She also urged the public to discuss the accountability of the building industry: 'Given the performance of the construction industry in this sorry tale, some people may think that they are the real culprits.' Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming, who sponsored the debate, said: 'This is a victory for the people of Hong Kong. We made history today.' Liberal Party chief James Tien Pei-chun said the party would support Mr Miller staying on because he knew how to pursue reforms, not because he should stand up to political pressure. Mr Tung last night gave his support to Mr Miller. 'I have confidence in Mr Miller; he will continue his job as Director of Housing. Mr Miller has capability.' Mr Li said: 'This is the right time to introduce the culture of political accountability. The head [of any department] must be held accountable and shoulder responsibility.' Non-affiliated legislator Lui Ming-wah claimed the motion violated Article 73 of the Basic Law, which did not provide power for the legislature to cast a no-confidence vote in officials. 'This will have a far-reaching impact on society,' he said. But unionist Lee Cheuk-yan hailed the 'dawning of a new era' and 'the arrival of political accountability'. Cheng Kai-nam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said: 'Public discontent has reached boiling point. We must respond and hold the two responsible.' Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan rejected claims people would be scared away from public posts: 'If people cannot be held accountable to society and move ahead with times then they are not suitable for the job.' His colleague, Cheung Man-kwong, went further, warning Mr Tung he would be the next target if he did not reflect on why his administration was so unpopular.