Officials appointed under the proposed accountability system would ensure future policies were in tune with public sentiment, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said yesterday. He said the five-year term instead of a lifelong civil service appointment would enable appointees to 'decide their future' when they had made policy blunders. The new approach would also raise civil service accountability while preserving its neutrality, he said. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has proposed a new layer of political appointees, comprising the three top secretaries and most bureau directors. They will sit on the Executive Council and follow through policy formulation. Defending the proposals on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong yesterday, Mr Tsang said Mr Tung had visualised a system more attuned to the notion of 'Hong Kong people running Hong Kong'. Mr Tsang said it was understandable that there had been more pressure for top civil servants to be held accountable for their policies and to assume political responsibility. He said the existing arrangements owed more to the colonial past than to a high degree of autonomy under 'one country, two systems'. 'This is not appropriate under the present employment terms for civil servants. It would undermine the political neutrality of our civil service system, which is one of the cornerstones of Hong Kong's success,' he said. He said the need to lobby the public and Legco had increased and the role of his senior colleagues had become less administrative and more political. Under the new system, Mr Tsang said principal officials would have to shoulder full political responsibility for their portfolios, 'for better or for worse'. 'There would certainly be every incentive for them to listen to public views more carefully; consider them positively, ensure that their policies are in tune with public sentiment and see that the delivery of services meets with public approval,' he said. Mr Tsang said the system allowed 'flexibility for timely and appropriate remedial measures' in the event of policy blunders. Speaking later on, Mr Tsang said this meant that the five-year term would enable the appointees to 'decide on their own their future' when they had made policy blunders. But he stopped short of saying if they would be sacked. With the clear-cut division of responsibilities between political appointees and the civil service, Mr Tsang said he was confident that 'it will bring a new approach to policy-making; a more responsive and responsible Government, and create a degree of accountability. This can only be good for Hong Kong'.