Certain top officials will be politically appointed, play a bigger role in policy-making and be held responsible for their decisions if a proposed accountability system announced yesterday goes ahead. Speaking after delivering his Policy Address, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said the new system would help the Government respond to public sentiment. 'It will ensure the Government has a better grasp of public opinion and is more sensitive to the people's pulse amid economic restructuring,' he said. Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen welcomed the proposals, saying they would improve government efficiency and quality. In his address, Mr Tung said the roles, powers and responsibilities of top government officials would be clearly defined. The appointees could come from within or outside the civil service and would be hired on contracts with their terms coinciding with the chief executive's. Mr Tung refused to comment on whether the political appointees would have to resign if they were not performing well or proved to be incompetent. 'This is not our prime aim. But they must be held responsible for the success and failure of their policies. 'They have to be accountable to the chief executive, too,' he said. Criticism of the way officials have handled problems in the past, such as a series of piling scandals at public housing flats, contributed to calls to make the top level of the Government more accountable. Under the proposed system, three top policy secretaries - the chief secretary, the financial secretary and the secretary for justice - and most bureau directors would become political appointees. The chief executive would make nominations for the positions to the central Government and also have the power to remove the appointees. The officials would be offered remuneration packages different to those for civil servants and would sit on the Executive Council to help the chief executive make policy decisions. Mr Tung said the officials would formulate, explain and defend their policies and work out priorities. He said the new system would result in better co-ordination across departments and improve communication with Legco. It is understood that the secretary for the civil service, whose portfolio covers internal civil service matters, may be excluded from the system. Noting more details were to be worked out, Mr Tung said it would be up to the next chief executive to decide whether the ideas should be implemented. Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming said he was worried the move might backfire because the political appointees would be afraid of challenging the chief executive. 'Incumbent principal officials have the guts to speak up against the chief executive when he or she does something wrong because they will not be fired. But political appointees will fear [speaking up],' he said.