Politically appointed senior officials would be forced to stand down for policy failures if there was public consensus for them to go, Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung said yesterday. However, Mr Suen said there would be no publicised set of criteria to assess the appointees' performances. He warned an official would be 'beyond redemption' if he failed to listen to public sentiment on policy failures. 'If this happens, I don't think anyone could resist the pressure [to step down] judging from history,' he said, adding that he did not think this would happen. He said 'other measures' could be taken if the appointee refused to stand down. Under the system the chief executive has the power to remove a senior official after making a recommendation to Beijing. At a briefing on the new accountability system proposed in the October 10 Policy Address, Mr Suen said it was more likely the appointees would react to public and media pressure and make suitable policy changes. In his address, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa proposed raising the accountability of the top echelon of the Government through a new tier of political appointees who would be responsible for formulating and implementing policy. They would be hired on a contract basis outside the civil service structure. The chief secretary, finance secretary, justice chief and most bureau directors would be political appointees under the system. Mr Suen said it would be difficult to lay down all the criteria to determine serious failures in the formulation or implementation of policy. It would also be hard to define under what conditions an appointee would take the blame and resign. In other countries, officials resigned mainly over issues of personal integrity unrelated to their work, he said. On the issue of pay for political appointees, Mr Suen said this would be worked out in a consultant study. Under the proposal, after an official is appointed to a policy area, the corresponding policy secretary would become an under-secretary and would no longer need to lobby to win public support for policies. Mr Suen refused to say if policy secretaries' current monthly pay of $190,100 would be cut because of the division of work. Under the new system, the chief secretary would no longer be the head of the civil service. Another official would be appointed to this role and write appraisal reports of the under-secretaries, Mr Suen said.