VETERAN politicians set to fight the toughest battle in the March elections came face-to-face at the nominations office yesterday. Szeto Wah and Elsie Tu both arrived at the Kwun Tong District Office well before 9 am when nominations opened. As long-time friends, they greeted each other with a good morning and a handshake. Both 63-year-old Mr Szeto and 81-year-old Mrs Tu said they wanted to get the nominations out of the way so they could move on with their busy schedules. Mr Szeto's last-minute decision to contest the March polls took a lot of people by surprise, including Mrs Tu. There had been no indication Mr Szeto, the Democratic Party whip, would run for Urban Council elections for the first time. More surprisingly, Mr Szeto has decided to compete with Mrs Tu, an old ally in the fight for democracy. Mrs Tu supported Mr Szeto in his campaign for the 1991 Legislative Council direct elections. But the two are taking different roads in the fight for democracy. Mr Szeto remains the chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic and Democratic Movement in China, which Beijing has branded subversive. Mrs Tu was appointed a Hong Kong affairs adviser by China in April. Mr Szeto denied he was standing instead of someone less well-known from the party because of Mrs Tu's high profile. 'I don't feel bad running against Mrs Tu as the election is fair and open,' he said. Mrs Tu's husband, Andrew Tu Hsueh-kwei, said the couple had been friends with Mr Szeto for more than 30 years. Asked whether the competition between the two legislators would affect their friendship, Mr Tu said: 'That won't happen to genuine politicians. There is always competition in politics.' While Mrs Tu reiterated that she was a democrat, Mr Tu hinted that he did not agree with the way Mr Szeto was campaigning for democracy. 'We always need to take reality into account and fight for democracy in a feasible way,' he said. The Urban Council chairman, Dr Ronald Leung Ding-bong, has also chosen to contest a seat in the municipal council elections. The 60-year-old, first appointed to the council in 1984, said he wanted to go on serving the community and finish some major projects he had begun during his term as chairman, such as the renovation of public toilets. 'When only about 60 of the more than 300 toilets have been renovated, there is still a lot for me to accomplish,' said Dr Leung. Dr Leung is to stand in Kowloon City North, where he set up a district office in May.