DAB aims for 12 seats in poll, leader says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am

The leading Beijing-friendly party has set itself a goal of winning 12 Legislative Council seats in the September polls.

But careful consideration would be given to whether party heavyweights would step down, as Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming had done, said Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

Mr Tam made the comments after wrapping up a two-day camp in Shenzhen, during which the party decided to step up efforts to reach out to professionals, the middle class and young people.

Speaking at the party's new headquarters in North Point, Mr Tam said party-held seats dropped to 11 after Anson Chan Fang On-sang filled the seat vacated by late DAB chairman Ma Lik on Hong Kong Island.

Two of the party's directly elected seats were won in 2004 by narrow margins. 'Our goal is to try our best to restore our strength to 12 seats in Legco,' he said.

On Mr Lee's decision to step down to make way for new blood in the Democratic Party, Mr Tam would not say whether any DAB heavyweights planned to emulate him.

'We will consider the chances of winning as well as the need to groom new talent,' he said. 'Both factors will be taken into consideration. But what's important is to keep the seats.'

He also side-stepped the question of whether former DAB chairman Tsang Yok-sing would switch his electoral base from Kowloon West to Hong Kong Island, where the party is battling to reclaim Ma's seat.

On relations with the government under Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's leadership, Mr Tam said the party would continue its strategy of monitoring while co-operating.

'We have been exploring the relations with the government since 2006 [after Mr Tsang succeeded Tung Chee-hwa],' he said. 'We think the communication and mutual trust have been increasing.'

Mr Tam said the government had attached importance to the party's policy proposals.

'We believe we can help enhance governance and complement each other.'

DAB standing committee member Starry Lee Wai-king said the party had 'reviewed our strengths and weaknesses'.

'While people generally recognised the party's work for people at the grass roots, there is room for improvement in reaching out to professionals and the middle class,' she said.

The party would organise a delegation of professionals to voice concerns directly to officials in Beijing.