The civil service chief yesterday sought to play down Jiang Zemin's call for civil servants to 'conscientiously' support the leadership of Tung Chee-hwa. Secretary for Civil Service Joseph Wong Wing-ping responded by saying it was natural for civil servants to be accountable to Mr Tung. Mr Jiang made the appeal at the swearing-in ceremony of the new ministerial team. In response, Mr Wong said civil servants should always be loyal and try their best. 'It is natural for them to be accountable to the chief executive,' he said. Asked if Mr Jiang meant civil servants in the past had not given enough support to Mr Tung, Mr Wong said it was their responsibility to perform better. He also pledged the government would never take any measure that would undermine the strengths and core values of the civil service. Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang was asked by Vice-Premier Qian Qichen to give better support to Mr Tung before she retired last year. Mr Qian also said Mr Tung had been alone in his first term as most principal officials were inherited from the former British colonial government. Separately, Mr Wong wrote an open letter to civil servants yesterday, saying he fully understood their concern about the impact of the ministerial system on their job security. 'As the Secretary for the Civil Service, it is my unequivocal duty to ensure that the interests and concerns of the civil service are fully represented and taken into account before any major decision is taken by government,' he said. Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Henry Tang Ying-yen said he believed the 180,000-strong civil servants would fully support Mr Tung. Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said yesterday that the administration should be reformed to cut red tape in order to improve governance.