Hong Kong's legislators do not have many of the powers their counterparts elsewhere take for granted, such as unlimited rights to introduce legislation and scrutinise ministerial appointments. Saying no to government bills and funding requests is their most potent means of checking the executive authorities. It is a power that the legislators treasure highly and exercise shrewdly to achieve maximum benefits for their political careers, to the frustration of an administration that constitutionally has no assured support from any legislators. The government's struggle to win support for a bill to reduce civil servants' pay is a good illustration of the system at work. Although public opinion is largely in favour of the cut, the bill is only expected to go through the Legislative Council by a narrow margin. Despite Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's efforts to sway them, only five of the seven members of the so-called Breakfast Group, who hold the balance of power on this issue, are expected to endorse the bill because they represent constituencies largely unaffected by the pay cut. Two members representing the medical and engineering sectors are expected to oppose the cuts. Nor is the ruling coalition that Mr Tung has established with the Liberal Party, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong and Federation of Trade Unions expected to deliver him unqualified support. The heads of the three bodies, whose members command 19 votes in Legco, were appointed by Mr Tung to the Executive Council from July 1. But while all Liberal Party legislators will probably support the bill, a few DAB legislators, including those affiliated with the FTU, are likely to oppose it. That the government has found it so difficult to muster support does not bode well for its ability to shepherd other controversial bills through Legco. But this only demonstrates that Legco is performing its function of acting as a public check on the administration. Hong Kong's political system remains flawed, however. As some legislators are returned by popular elections, while others are returned by functional constituencies representing sectoral interests, Legco's checking power is lopsided.