With a long-time Democrat facing a challenge from a former supporter in one constituency and rival pan-democrats contesting another, the pan-democratic camp looks set to lose some council seats in Tsuen Wan district, where they and Beijing loyalists each hold around half.
In the Tak Wah constituency, long-time Democrat incumbent Cosmas Kwong Kwok-chuen, a councillor since 1991, is facing local residents' group leader Lo Siu-kit, who has canvassed for him in past elections.
Mr Lo is a car salesman and has the backing of the government-friendly New Territories General Chamber of Commerce for his first campaign. He has been the chairman of the Tsuen Cheong Centre owners' association for eight years.
The incumbent would not comment on his opponent's apparent switch of political allegiance, but said he was confident of being re-elected. Though Mr Kwong has won four elections in Tak Wah, one pan-democrat said the veteran was not certain of re-election since a boundary change had added more than 1,000 voters to the constituency.
Mr Kwong has defeated candidates from the then Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong by wide margins in previous elections. This is the first time he is up against a self-proclaimed independent.
The only seats the Democratic Party is contesting are four it holds. A party source said the district had long been a weak spot for the Democrats. The party suffered another blow when councillors Sumly Chan Yuen-sum and Tin Sai-ming defected.
In Lei Muk Shue West, two pan-democrats are contesting, along with an independent backed by Beijing loyalists. Lam Chiu-lun, of the League of Social Democrats, a councillor from 1994 to 2003, is up against the Civic Party's Wong Ka-wa, who unseated him four years ago, and merchant Lam Chi-fai, a first-timer supported by the Beijing loyalist Federation of Trade Unions.
Legislator and Tsuen Wan district councillor Albert Chan Wai-yip, of the League of Social Democrats, predicts the pan-democratic camp will lose one or two seats.