Whether a major ministerial reshuffle can turn the tide at a time of adversity remains to be seen. But if the prescription by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is anything to go by, this is what Hong Kong needs following the double blow of social unrest and the Covid-19 pandemic. As pay cuts and sackings continue to make headlines, the appointments may not inspire much hope or confidence, but they are a bold step. The shake-up has surprised many, not only because it follows hot on the heels of a constitutional row, but also at the time of a public health crisis. But it shows Lam is keen to begin a new chapter. Earlier, the two state bodies overseeing local affairs, the central government’s liaison office and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, also had their directors replaced. The changes are in line with Beijing’s determination to put the city back on the right track. Dismissing any link with the constitutional rumpus, Lam said the reshuffle would help rebuild Hong Kong in the wake of the pandemic. The government, she said, was mapping out ways to revive the economy and: “A major goal of this reshuffle is to help Hong Kong get out of this difficult situation as soon as possible.” But she did not say why such tasks could not be undertaken by those she had replaced. This is her biggest gesture since the extradition bill crisis last summer, but it is unlikely to impress those critical of the government response then. The two ministers involved in the bill, security chief John Lee Ka-chiu and justice secretary Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, are still in office. Lam yesterday made it clear that she never had any intention to address the political fallout with a cabinet reshuffle. She also dismissed claims Beijing had imposed new “political missions”. However this does not end speculation that the appointment of Patrick Nip Tak-kuen as civil service minister comes with an agenda to strengthen staff loyalty and allegiance. Coming just days after he made erroneous statements about the liaison office’s role, when he was the constitutional affairs chief, there is certainly a case for Nip and 190,000 civil servants to strengthen their understanding of the Basic Law. Whether successor Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, former head of immigration and the first disciplined services chief to take up the constitutional portfolio, can rise to the challenge will be watched closely. The other ministerial appointments, Alfred Sit Wing-hang at innovation and technology, Christopher Hui Ching-yu at financial services and Caspar Tsui Ying-wai at home affairs, are also bold choices by Lam. While the new team has firm support from Beijing, it is still politically weak. The road to recovery is challenging. With just barely two years of the current term remaining, the pressure to deliver fast is growing. It is to be hoped that new blood will bring new insights and results.