The civil service secretary has spent the past two days meeting high-ranking administrative officers and staff unions in an attempt to restore staff morale three weeks after the mass anti-government protest by 500,000 people on July 1. Joseph Wong Wing-ping is understood to have told the officers during talks that the protesters were airing their grievances against ministers rather than civil servants. Mr Wong also stressed the importance of maintaining the stability of the administrative officers' grade and believed the ministerial system had effectively shielded civil servants from political blame. Mr Wong's press secretary confirmed that the minister had met administrative officers, but would not comment on their discussions. The ministerial system, under which top administrative officers were replaced by political appointees, was introduced last July to protect civil service neutrality. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has admitted making mistakes and has promised to listen to more views. Speaking after talks with Mr Wong yesterday, Senior Non-Expatriate Officers Association chairman Pang Tat-choi said the minister commended staff for their performance in the fight against Sars and the rescue operation after the bus accident on Tuen Mun Road earlier this month. Although Mr Wong stopped short of mentioning the mass protest during the meeting with staff unions, Mr Pang said he believed the talks were a response to Mr Tung's pledges of better communication. The Federation of Civil Service Unions was to air its concerns to Mr Wong in a separate meeting today.