But the critics question whether his inquiry will have teeth A government-led investigation into the Sars outbreak was launched yesterday amid mounting pressure to establish whether the biggest medical disaster in Hong Kong's modern history has been handled properly. Outlining the inquiry in the Legislative Council, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said he had asked Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong to appoint local, mainland and overseas experts to form a review committee to look into the outbreak. The committee will examine Hong Kong's health-care system, including the operations of the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority, and make recommendations on how similar crises should be handled in the future. Facing calls for senior officials to be held accountable for the handling of the outbreak that started in early March and which has so far infected 1,703 people and killed 234, Mr Tung stressed that the investigation would 'target the issues but not individuals'. Mr Tung ordered the investigation just a day after the Legco health services panel passed a motion calling for the establishment of a select committee to carry out an inquiry. Lawmakers and health-care professionals yesterday questioned the impartiality and credibility of the committee. They said that as Dr Yeoh had been criticised for his poor leadership, there could be a conflict of interest if he formed the committee. They also questioned the efficacy of a committee with no legal powers to summons witnesses or seize confidential documents. Mr Tung said that the outbreak had come under control after the government had adopted decisive quarantine and infection-control measures. 'As we had no knowledge [of this new disease], the government's responses and measures have been a process - from being passive to being active, and finally playing a leading role,' he told lawmakers during a question and answer session. The chief executive gave no timeframe for the setting up of the review committee. Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum said it would be unacceptable for Dr Yeoh to head the investigation. 'We need to set up an independent investigation team led by a judge and consisting of professionals. Hong Kong citizens will not trust the Hospital Authority and the secretary to conduct the investigation themselves ... it's a tactic of Mr Tung to sidestep Legco,' Dr Yeung said. Eric Cheung Tat-ming, an assistant professor with Hong Kong University's law faculty, said it would be more appropriate for the government to set up an independent commission under the Commission of Inquiry Ordinance. Professor Cheung said the merits of an independent commission were that it would have legal powers to summon witnesses, gain access to information and protect witnesses. Health-care workers have expressed their anger after the death of three hospital staff, including a doctor, a nurse and a health-care assistant. The president of the Public Doctors' Association, Leung Ka-lau, said the inquiry should be led by a judge. 'Hong Kong people still have confidence in the Judiciary. Judges have experience in dealing with medical blunders and they have credibility,' Dr Leung said. But both Liberal Party legislator Miriam Lau Kin-yee and Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong vice-chairman Ip Kwok-him supported Mr Tung's decision. Mr Ip said: 'I always support the setting up of committees to review areas of weaknesses, such as medical supply and the Hospital Authority's system.'