AN independent legislator - asked what pro-business politicians could do in the democrat-dominated new Legco - joked: 'Perhaps they'll play more golf.' In spite of the election successes of core leaders of the business-oriented Liberal Party, such as Allen Lee Peng-fei and Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, the pro-business lobby will have to play second fiddle to its rival, the Democratic Party, in the new legislature. The Democrats, with 19 votes, will be able to garner enough support for a majority from like-minded independents, unionists and the small 'l' liberals on issues such as welfare. Senior government officials say privately that fears of confrontations with a radical new Democrat-led Legco may not be as bad as first thought. 'The Democrats will have to learn to be statesmen-like and take a responsible approach. 'It's still early days, but we have not heard of radical demands from the Democrats. The major test will be the whole question of unemployment and labour importation,' said one official. Signs of a shift by the Democrats towards a more moderate approach have surfaced in the past fortnight. In contrast to the high-profile meeting between the Democratic Party, formerly known as the United Democrats of Hong Kong, and the then Governor, Lord Wilson, after the 1991 elections, the Democrats were more restrained in their meeting with Chris Patten last week. There have been no strong calls for him to allocate them seats in the Executive Council. Nor have the Democrats handed the Governor a list of who they think should sit on Exco, as they did in 1991. To the relief of Mr Patten and his top aides, the Democrats made clear they would not be interested in joining the Executive Council if the collective responsibility and secrecy rules stay in place. The issue of labour importation is another case in point. Unionists from diverse political persuasions are putting aside their differences and calling for the government to stop the imported labour scheme. But the Democrats have opted for a more flexible approach. They suggested empowering Legco to decide whether imported labour should be allowed to meet proven needs in certain sectors. In a set of economic and taxation policies publicised on Friday, the Democrats also attempted to show the community - particularly the business sector - that they speak for a wide range of opinions. Among others, they joined the calls by the Liberals for a cut in profit tax, though by 0.5 per cent, not 1.5 per cent as suggested by the business party. They also demanded a rise in the personal tax allowance from $79,000 to $91,000. 'The Democratic Party,' said its leader Martin Lee, 'is prepared to work with the Government, all other political parties and with the Hong Kong people to improve Hong Kong's economic prospects, now and in the future.' Faced with the likelihood that many of its 19 legislators may not be able to keep their seats after the handover of sovereignty, the Democrats may well forget about 1997 and fight for immediate changes in government policies. But the result is inevitable: both their members and their hard-fought changes will not survive 1997. Should the Democrats remain committed to serving Hong Kong after 1997, they need to adopt a longer term vision and to take into account the needs of various sectors of the community. A political party that is labelled as anti-business or anti-China will have no future in Hong Kong, now and in the future. While it is almost certain that Beijing will remain extremely sceptical of the Democrats, it is never too late for the party to demonstrate to both the community and China that they are not troublemakers and do care for the interests of all parties. A show of moderation by the Democrats will help build up more common ground for dialogue with the business sector - and even with China in the long run.