A second-tier hopeful from the Democratic Party for September's Legislative Council election has challenged Kam Nai-wai's ability to win a seat, on the eve of the party's meeting today on its electoral lineup.
The Island branch will cast a vote of confidence over Eastern district councillor Lai Chi-keong's bid to lead his own ticket against Mr Kam in the Hong Kong Island constituency.
Mr Lai said yesterday he would rather face the vote than pull out, as party vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai did last week. 'Everyone knows Mr Sin withdrew under strong pressure from others. I would rather let the screening mechanism determine my bid. I don't want to give the impression that we Democrats are under pressure to withdraw one after another,' he said.
The 60-year-old veteran Democrat nearly won a seat when he ranked third on the party list after Yeung Sum and Martin Lee Chu-ming in the 2004 Legco election.
He admitted his chances of being allowed to lead a second ticket were 'not optimistic'.
Asked if colleagues had pressured him to withdraw, he said: 'I am not at liberty to say. But just like [Barack] Obama and Hillary [Rodham Clinton], do you think they are not under pressure to quit?'
Analysts say Mr Kam, a Central and Western district councillor, may be unable to secure enough votes to win a seat after Mr Lee, Dr Yeung and Mr Sin dropped out.
Mr Lai said: 'It is naive, if not risky, to think they could still keep a seat by just pushing Mr Kam to the top of the list. I would have withdrawn voluntarily had Mr Kam managed to get people to rally behind him.'
Mr Kam said: 'I appreciate Mr Lai is trying to win members' trust ahead of the vote. It's natural to have different views. But I hope people will respect the outcome of the meeting. We need solidarity to win the seat.'
He would not speculate on the outcome, but said: 'From what I heard from members, there are more with no confidence in Mr Lai's bid.'
He said he had tried to contact lawmaker and former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang on the prospect of a joint ticket earlier, but she could not be reached.