At least 32 former senior government officials have joined the scramble for seats on the 400-strong Selection Committee. Among the names seeking a say in who will be Hong Kong's post-handover leader are former secretary for education and manpower John Chan Cho-chak; former secretary for the treasury Yeung Kai-yin; and former police commissioner Li Kwan-ha. Twenty-eight of the applications have been submitted through the former Senior Civil Servants' Association. But the body's chairman, former secretary for lands and works Nicky Chan Nai-keong, said they would leave it up to those of its members who won committee seats to decide on the best candidate for chief executive. Mr Chan is also seeking a seat, along with former secretary for works James Blake; ex-ICAC boss David Jeaffreson; former regional secretary Ian MacPherson and ex-fire services chief Lam Chek-yuen. Four other past top officials, who have been nominated through other channels, include the former chief secretary, Sir David Akers-Jones. Mr Chan said the expatriate members, who were not permanent residents, were qualified because they met the relevant permanent residency requirements under the Basic Law. According to rules set down governing the composition of the Selection Committee, former civil servants come under the category of former political figures. In spite of the ban on serving senior officials participating in the committee, a senior government officer said: 'The retired officials are perfectly entitled to do so. They are playing a different role now.' He said it was hoped these candidates would represent 'moderation, good sense and experience' in the committee's deliberations on the handover chief and membership of the provisional legislature. 'They should continue to take the open-minded civil service approach and judge issues on their merits and ensure the decisions are in the best interest of Hong Kong people,' he added. Yesterday 873 nominees returned application forms to the Preparatory Committee's secretariat in Central, taking the total to 3,225. More than 20,000 application forms have been distributed, with the deadline for nominations 1 pm tomorrow.