Tung Chee-hwa was yesterday resigned to the reality that it is up to legislators to decide whether to conduct their own inquiry into the Sars outbreak. Asked about his views on a separate investigation by the Legislative Council, the chief executive, in a departure from his earlier stance, said plainly: 'We do not have a view. [If there is an inquiry] we will try to co-ordinate with their work.' If Mr Tung did not repeat his earlier dismay over the prospect of a Legco inquiry, it is because there was little he could do to stop the political fallout of the Sars outbreak from evolving into a crisis affecting his governance. Following the controversies over the penny-stocks fiasco, Antony Leung Kam-chung's car purchase and Article 23, the Sars outbreak is another godsend for critics who question Mr Tung's commitment to greater accountability. The committee's conclusion that no individual should be blamed for maladministration or negligence will be seen as another example of the hypocrisy of the flawed 'accountability system'. Rightly or wrongly, the critics want to see heads roll. The belated public apology by health minister Yeoh Eng-kiong, who was the focus of public anger over the handling of Sars, will hardly ease the political pressure on himself and Mr Tung. As Hong Kong enters a year of elections - nominations for next month's district council polls opened yesterday and the Legco poll is scheduled for next September - aspiring politicians cannot afford to show sympathy and understanding towards Dr Yeoh and the unpopular Tung administration. Grilled by journalists about the panel's conclusion that no one should be blamed, co-chairman Sir Cyril Chantler stressed the importance of being fair both to victims' families and other individuals. Without mentioning Dr Yeoh, Sir Cyril said one important lesson for officials to learn was how to discuss risk with the public. The community must also learn to deal with risk. In its report, the panel warned of the bigger risk of failures in the public health system and proposed a set of remedies, which unfortunately might now be overshadowed by the emotive debate about the fate of Dr Yeoh. The question now is whether that debate will also hamper the administration's ability to prepare for the possible re-emergence of Sars, on both the political and public health fronts.