Hong Kong does not stand out as a role model in terms of the quality of its governance. But there exists a political culture that allows the government to learn from its mistakes, as reflected in the various reviews and inquiries launched by the executive authorities or the legislature. This is especially important when the government positions itself as being accountable to the people. With the city still struggling to control the coronavirus pandemic after more than two years, the need for a full investigation into the saga would have seemed like a foregone conclusion even before the onslaught of the fifth wave. So far, more than 7,000 people have died with Covid-19 infections. The wealth of inadequacies exposed in the ongoing crisis makes such a review all the more necessary. A recent Post report has put the problems into perspective. From complacency and a lack of preparedness to failure to make the best of Beijing’s support and coordinate cross-departmental efforts to deliver solutions, the Carrie Lam administration has had its fair share of criticism. The Hospital Authority has also come under fire for its inadequate capacity and failure to reduce fatalities, while low vaccination and high infection rates at care homes for the elderly have raised fears. As head of the special administrative region, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is ultimately responsible for the government’s performance, not only to the people of Hong Kong, but also the central government. Lam has apparently shown much empathy when questioned about the high number of deaths, and welfare minister Law Chi-kwong has said the buck stops with him regarding the crisis facing the elderly. With just three months of her current term remaining, Lam was not wrong when she said it would be up to the next administration to conduct an independent commission of inquiry. British judicial body withdraws judges from Hong Kong’s top court However, she fuelled speculation as to whether she would seek re-election when she offered to help the inquiry in her capacity as the one who was in charge of the current virus battle. Regardless of whether she serves another term, the need for an independent review still remains. Lam also proposed an independent review of the issues that led to the social unrest in 2019, but later changed her mind. Whether the Legislative Council will invoke its powers to investigate the Covid-19 pandemic as it did with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003 remains to be seen. But there is no shortage of examples of the government investigating issues of public concern in the past, including inquiries into alleged political interference in opinion polls in 2000, and the Lamma ferry disaster in 2012. At stake is not only accountability, but also the city’s defence mechanism that is badly in need of improvement.