He may have been facing the most heated moment of his political career, but Antony Leung Kam-chung projected an air of studied indifference as he arrived at the Legislative Council yesterday to face the music over his car-buying scandal. The financial secretary seemed rightly to sense that the no-confidence motion had failed even before it was put to the vote, a victim perhaps of the Sars crisis. It could have been business as usual as he arrived for what might have seemed a normal Wednesday afternoon - a quick lunch, and the collection of a few petitions on the way to council chambers. After a 3?-hour session, pro-government parties successfully dismissed the call for him to go, thanks to the split-voting mechanism. The functional constituency vote was 20-5 in his favour, although the motion was passed by 17 to 11 votes in directly elected seats. Responding to the criticism and the praise from legislators, Mr Leung said at the end of the debate that building trust needed time and he would continue to do his best to serve the public. His popularity has plunged since the scandal surrounding his purchase of a Lexus 430 just before he announced a rise in vehicle registration tax in his March 5 budget. But calls from a large section of society for his resignation have since been largely drowned out by opposition voices from the business sector and pro-government parties. The atmosphere was best described by James Tien Pei-chun, leader of the Liberal Party and a member of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's cabinet. 'Maybe people in the business sector have forgotten about the motion today. I think most businesses didn't even know [about it] due to the Sars outbreak,' Mr Tien said. But he admitted that in the early stages of the controversy, some businessmen did have reservations and wanted Mr Leung to resign. However, their doubts ebbed after the government's explanations. After the controversy was exposed, Mr Tung criticised Mr Leung for his 'gross negligence' but rejected his resignation. Mr Leung has described the issue as an oversight born of his concern for his new wife and the need for a safe new car to transport their newborn daughter. No matter how hard Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, who moved the motion as representative of the legal sector, tried to convince the ruling coalition that Mr Leung's resignation would prove a true test of the 'accountability system', her calls fell on ears deafened by political realities.