Officials show they have nothing to hide by trying to get to bottom of blunders The Tung team, learning from the bitter experience of the Sars outbreak, has acted to limit further damage to its authority and image by initiating an independent investigation into the Harbour Fest controversy. This is despite the fact that the damage incurred by the $130 million extravaganza will be much less serious than the losses inflicted by Sars in the spring, when 299 people died and the economy nosedived. By refusing to set up an independent Sars inquiry, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and his top aides must now face questioning at a Legislative Council select committee over their roles in the public health crisis. With the district council polls just over two weeks away and the Legco election due next September, Mr Tung is facing the reality that rival political parties will not let officials off the hook over the Harbour Fest issue. Faced with losses of up to $100 million in taxpayers' money and damage to Hong Kong's image, the government is under immense pressure to give a full and credible account of the controversy. By taking the initiative yesterday, the administration is anxious to show it has nothing to hide. Significantly, officials seem to genuinely believe they have done a reasonably decent job. With glitches affecting Harbour Fest almost on a daily basis, they are convinced the public understands the enormous practical difficulties in putting on the show within 100 days. For the officials, an independent commission could help deliver a fair and balanced assessment of the successes and failures of the event, and help defuse the pressure from some Legco members for them to conduct their own investigation. Yesterday, Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen tried to highlight the positive feedback received on some performances and the practical difficulties, such as the time constraint. He laughed off rumours that the government was prepared to dump InvestHK chief Mike Rowse to ease the political pressure. Through an investigation by an independent body, the government hopes its authority and image will be salvaged. It also hopes that justice will be done over the idea of staging the Harbour Fest and the efforts of key figures, such as American Chamber of Commerce chief James Thompson. Whether this will prove to be the case remains to be seen, and will depend on the commission's line up, the way it conducts its work and its findings.