The Liberal Party wants the government to consider replacing undersecretaries and political assistants who don't shape up, ahead of results of their midterm salary review. The call by the pro-business party, which has one member serving as a political appointee, goes a step further than the Democratic Party, which earlier suggested cutting appointees' pay levels. Two years after the government introduced two additional tiers of politically accountable positions, bureau chiefs recently completed appraisals of deputies and political assistants. The reports were submitted to an appointment panel chaired by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, which will announce whether pay levels will be adjusted. Releasing the results of a survey it carried out between last Thursday and Monday, the Liberal Party said most of its 412 respondents wanted the salaries of undersecretaries (77.4 per cent) and political assistants (73.3 per cent) cut. When asked to rate the overall performance of the 18 officials on a one-to-five scale, 42.7 per cent gave the lowest score of one, 26.2 per cent gave two marks and 23.3 per cent gave three. Michael Tien Puk-sun, a member of the party's executive committee, said: 'People call for a pay cut for the appointees because their performances are poor. Some of them are not familiar with their policy portfolios and some have failed to give relevant answers to questions. When reviewing the performances of these 16 people, the government should consider replacing some of them instead of letting them all stay. If even bad performers can stay in their positions, how can it be called the political accountability system?' While saying the posts should be kept, he suggested the government improve the system by appointing people with a strong political sense and professional knowledge. 'There are a lot of mismatches. In the Tung Chee-hwa era, a university vice-chancellor was appointed as the education minister and the permanent secretary for education had read an education degree. But nowadays, what background is [secretary for education] Michael Suen Ming-yeung from? What background is [permanent secretary for education] Raymond Wong Hung-chiu from? What background is [undersecretary for education] Kenneth Chen Wei-on from? All are unrelated to education,' Tien said. When asked to comment on the performance of Jeremy Young Chit-on, political assistant to the secretary for education and also a Liberal Party member, Tien said it should be left for the government to assess. Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong agreed that the government could consider replacing poor performers. He said the unclear roles of undersecretaries should be resolved. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which has three members serving as political appointees, showed more sympathy. 'The positions are new to Hongkongers. Many citizens are not familiar with what undersecretaries and political assistants do, so it is not surprising that they give such answers in a survey,' lawmaker Ip Kwok-him said. Political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung, of Chinese University, said it would be unrealistic to replace the appointees now. 'Only two years remain for the current government term. No one will be able to do any real work by joining the team now.'