The veto of the no-confidence motion might have put a full stop to the political wrestling in the Legislative Council over the car-purchase scandal. Should a related investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption conclude no law has been broken, the financial chief will have survived the most severe challenge to his political career, though he will not have emerged unscathed. The administration of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and its supporters, particularly those who voted in support of the financial secretary, will strive to put the saga behind them. Confronted by sharp attacks on the integrity and ability of Mr Leung, government-friendly lawmakers ducked the politically sensitive issue. Their arguments were similar: let bygones be bygones, give him another chance, look forward, the economy matters and unity comes first. At a time when the special administrative region is engulfed in a severe economic crisis triggered by the atypical pneumonia outbreak, pro-government members argue that kicking out Mr Leung would do more harm than good to efforts to salvage the economy. An announcement by Mr Tung on Monday that Mr Leung would head a taskforce to devise measures to 'get the economy going again' was timed to shift public attention from the scandal to the Sars-stricken economy. For his part, Mr Leung has no alternative but to get on with his job, in the hope of repairing the damage to his integrity and reputation through his achievements in economy-related issues. That said, he should realise doubts about his integrity and competence will not go away with the defeat of the no-confidence vote. His reputation will no longer be whiter than white. Worse, public scepticism towards him have and will severely hamper his work. With a government already suffering from low popularity, there will be serious doubts about whether Mr Leung has the authority and credibility to fight hard battles. As indicated by independent legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, the government backdown over reforming the stock-exchange listing mechanism in the wake of last year's penny stocks debacle speaks volumes about the plight of a beleaguered financial secretary in a feeble administration. On a higher political plane, the 'cargate' scandal will make a mockery - yet again - of the 'accountability system', now into its 11th month of operation. Instead of helping to set benchmarks on integrity, public trust and competence of officials held accountable under the new system, the way the case was handled has been riddled with political expediency, muddled arguments and confusing principles. Pro-Beijing unionist legislator Leung Fu-wah warned Hong Kong would be the big loser if the motion was passed. Even though the pro-government coalition Leung Fu-wah belongs to has won the vote, its members are far from being the winners in the saga. The financial secretary, Mr Tung's team and their supporters still have a price to pay for the ill-fated car purchase.