Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa is said to be contemplating forming a kind of governing alliance with political parties by appointing their leaders to the Executive Council. Should he do so, he will be taking a step that will have a significant impact on the operation of the SAR's political system. Along with the introduction of a 'ministerial system' in July, under which political appointees will replace civil servants as principal officials heading the policy bureaus, the move signals Mr Tung's determination to breathe new life into his second term by tackling a problem that has afflicted the political scene over the past five years. By design, Hong Kong's political system has a fatal flaw. While the power to govern is vested with the Chief Executive, he does not have a strong mandate from the public because he is not returned by popular election and he has no party support in the legislature. By contrast, although legislators are returned by broadly-based elections, they can never govern and their most effective way of expressing the 'will' of their electorate is to veto government proposals. The system has bred frustrations on both sides. Mr Tung has reportedly approached James Tien Pei-chun, leader of the Liberal Party, about joining Exco, and his next target is believed to be Tsang Yok-sing, head of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB). Even though the two parties have only 18 votes in the 60-member legislature, that should be enough to form the core of a pro-Tung coalition that could be expected to ensure the smoother passage of key government proposals. The Liberals owe their seats to functional constituencies comprising businessmen and professionals, whose philosophy is broadly in line with the Chief Executive's conservative and pro-business stance. It makes sense for them to team up with Mr Tung. But as a party whose members have to contest district-based elections, the DAB will have to weigh the pros and cons of joining up with Mr Tung carefully. Becoming a 'pro-government' party, duty bound to rally to the support of the administration, could be a recipe for electoral disaster. Understandably, the Chief Executive does not see the Democratic Party and The Frontier as possible partners. Both call for more democracy and have denounced the 'ministerial system' as a means by which the Chief Executive can shore up his power by side-lining senior civil servants. The criticism has a point, and the case for a chief executive directly elected by popular vote is irrefutable. But even Martin Lee Chu-ming, the Democrats' leader, has conceded that the move taken by Mr Tung is a positive step towards power sharing. As a means of making the system more workable, it is worth trying out.