Tung Chee-hwa's new team has given itself a glowing report on the performance of the ministerial system, brought in last July to improve the government's accountability to the public. But critics say the assessment, the first to be produced, has sought to hide mistakes and failed to address the key questions of how to make officials accountable for their blunders. Among the achievements listed in the six-month report card is $75 million in savings by merging bureaus and departments. Measures to stabilise the property market, and the target of keeping public spending at $200 billion by 2006-07 are also cited as some of the examples where the appointees have responded quickly on issues related to their portfolios. The ministerial system was introduced when the chief executive replaced top civil servants with political appointees. But with less than two months to study and vote for its implementation, some lawmakers complained that key constitutional issues were not addressed. In the 18-page report tabled to the Legislative Council yesterday, the Constitutional Affairs Bureau described the system as 'working smoothly and yielding dividends'. 'No system can lay a claim to perfection and certainly not from the start. However, we have quickly climbed the learning curve, adjusted to the new system and responded speedily to situations as they develop,' the report said. Moves to legislate on national security under Basic Law Article 23 were listed as one of the new initiatives under the heading 'greater responsiveness'. However, controversies such as the penny-stocks fiasco were not mentioned. Secretary for Financial Services and Treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang was forced to offer a public apology a day after refusing to do so in September. He had claimed that he had no knowledge about a consultation document in July to delist small-value stocks. The proposal triggered panic dumping and wiped more than $10 billion off the market. Political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung of City University criticised the government for singing its own praises. 'They just pull together everything positive, even something unrelated, to make a rosy packaging for the reform,' he said. Lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions said: 'How can the government become accountable if the officials don't even face up to their mistakes?' Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said the new system was not the answer to all problems. He said the report only cited some examples, but conceded that the penny-stocks incident was an important event. 'We feel that the spirit of accountability is that when something happens, we have to deal with it proactively. And when the community has views on the government, we will apologise when necessary.' Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong vice-chairman Ip Kwok-him said the report should contain both achievements and shortcomings, adding that a more thorough review was needed.