Reaction to scandals over the past year shows that top officials are now more accountable, the report finds The government yesterday published its long-awaited review of the ministerial system, which upheld it as the right step forward despite admissions that its performance over the past year fell short of public expectations. It concluded that the forced deferral of the Article 23 legislation showed the government was prepared to heed public sentiment and make adjustments in light of lawmakers' views. The penny stocks fiasco and the car-purchase scandal surrounding former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung were also positively described as evidence that the system was working under media and public scrutiny. The 66-page report card on the first year of the accountability system came a day after Tung Chee-hwa admitted he had made mistakes during his six years as chief executive but refused to apologise. Releasing the report, Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said the system was an important step in the right direction. 'We recognise that the operation in the first year has not been entirely smooth,' he said. The 500,000-strong July 1 rally demonstrated that people were dissatisfied with its governance and that the government had fallen short of public expectations, the report says. The mass demonstration eventually prompted the deferral of the National Security Bill with the promise of further consultations. 'These developments show that we are prepared to heed public sentiment, to adjust our position in the light of public opinion and to take into account the views of the Legco members,' the report says. Referring to the scandal in which Mr Leung bought a new car before announcing a rise in the vehicle registration tax, the report said the turn of events demonstrated the impact of the media and public scrutiny in the accountability system. Mr Lam was adamant that the system was an improvement when compared with the previous system in which civil servants were not blamed for political mistakes. 'The principal officials concerned have been prepared to stand up and be counted and to assume political responsibilities,' he said. But he would not be drawn on the criteria which prompted Mr Leung and Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee to resign. The report only documented their departures separately without any links to the Article 23 controversy and the car-purchase scandal. The government, Mr Lam said, had been more decisive and responsive, referring to the $11.8 billion Sars relief package. More than $111 million has been saved by streamlining bureaucracy over the past year, according to the report. The Legco constitutional affairs panel will discuss the report on Monday. Democratic Party legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the system was a failure. 'The problem is the officials are only accountable to Mr Tung,' he said.