More than a year after the ministerial system was introduced, senior civil servants say ministers still do not understand the government culture and more time is needed for co-operation to mature. The Hong Kong Senior Government Officers Association also fears ministers often have to rush policies because of political pressure. In July last year, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa introduced political appointments on top of the civil service, a move aimed to make ministers accountable and preserve the neutrality of officers. But critics warned of friction if officials who were department chiefs became subordinates of ministers drafted from outside. The association's new chairman, Peter Chan Pak-fong, said he was concerned that ministers might be forced to rush through policies under political pressure. 'Sometimes there is strong political pressure from the public to initiate policies, but if they are pushed too quickly, they might be difficult to implement. This is of concern to management,' he said. Referring to the mass protest in July, former association chairman Leung Chi-chiu said the civil service would be affected if the government ignored public wishes. 'The civil service is part of the government. If communication with the public is good, then our work will be smooth. If liaison becomes a problem, the civil service will also be affected,' he said. Mr Chan played down differences with mainland officials on civil service political neutrality. Receiving a delegation led by Mr Chan last month, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office deputy director Xu Ze told the group the issue of political neutrality should not be mixed with the need to implement the Basic Law. Mr Chan said Mr Xu had been 'quoted out of context'. But when asked if that meant Mr Xu had hinted that civil servants were no longer required to be politically neutral, Mr Chan said he could not remember Mr Xu's exact wording. 'We both share the view that civil servants should support the governance of the administration and uphold the Basic Law. That's what neutrality means,' he said.