Liberals eye two more directly elected seats

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2008, 12:00am

The Liberal Party is eyeing another two directly elected Legislative Council seats in the September elections as part of its commitment to move beyond functional constituencies.

Party chief James Tien Pei-chun said that although a poll showed vice-chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee did not have very strong support on Hong Kong Island, she was still considering switching from the transport sector seat.

Ms Lau is chairwoman of the House Committee and has been seen as the favourite to replace Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai as Legco president. Mrs Fan has announced she will not seek re-election.

Mr Tien said the party aimed to boost Ms Lau's standing over the next few months before making a final decision in May or June.

The functional constituencies have been the stronghold of the Liberals, who hold eight of the 30 seats. Mr Tien and another vice-chairwoman, Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, won direct elections in 2004 and other Liberals took up their functional constituency seats.

He said the party had yet to decide whether to field a candidate in Kowloon West, though Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, the Legco catering sector representative, had been seen as a frontrunner.

'Having more functional constituency lawmakers run in direct elections is in line with our commitment to replacing them with direct elections gradually,' Mr Tien said.

There have been suggestions that Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Lily Chiang Lai-lei is eyeing the Legco commerce seat. The former chairwoman of Pacific Challenge Holdings has been charged by the Independent Commission Against Corruption with share-option fraud and will appear in court again in early March.

Mr Tien said Chiang made an agreement with party lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung when she joined the Liberal Party that she would be given priority to fill the chamber's seat in Legco in September.

'But this is a deal between them,' Mr Tien said. 'It's not a promise of the Liberal Party or the chamber. That's something they have to sort out themselves.'