How ministers perform their duties and conduct themselves in public office has an impact on confidence in government. While it is the chief executive's job to pick the best brains for the positions, he relies on a good mechanism to ensure officials possess good character and do not bring the government into disrepute. Regrettably, the recent controversies surrounding our ministers show integrity checking at the senior echelon still leaves much to be desired. It is more than an embarrassment when the media reveal one scandal after another. Development chief Mak Chai-kwong was forced to resign after graft fighters launched an investigation into his questionable housing allowance claims while a civil servant in the 1980s. His successor, Paul Chan Mo-po, was embroiled in controversy over his wife's investment in subdivided flats. Earlier, former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen was forced to admit to extramarital affairs and the existence of an illegal basement at his home. These and other scandals have severely damaged the government's authority and the public's trust in officialdom. Like top civil servants, the appointees are subject to "extended" integrity checking. But all this means is that they must provide details similar to those in a curriculum vitae, which police check on. They are also asked whether they have problems that may embarrass the administration. But if they withhold the information, or do not think it will cause trouble, the process stops there. The system is clearly inadequate. Admittedly, some of the problems unearthed go back decades. But if the media can identify wrongdoing, there is no reason why it cannot be done by the government. The vetting of officials should not be left to the media. More stringent government checks are needed. Politicians should be reminded that they are required to conduct themselves in a manner that meets the highest standards of integrity. What they have said and done, be it recently or in the distant past, is subject to public scrutiny. They have to demonstrate that they are worthy of the public trust's both before and after taking office. The importance of an effective system of integrity checks cannot be overstated. The recent controversies show the current mechanism does not meet the public's high expectations. If this gate-keeping role is not done properly, confidence in the government will be undermined.