More than 1,700 people joined a last-minute rush yesterday for seats on the 400-member Selection Committee. Nominations close this afternoon. By late yesterday, more than 5,000 nominees had put their names forward to the Preparatory Committee, which will decide the line-up of the body formed to choose the chief executive and the provisional legislature. The nominations received yesterday at the committee's secretariat in Central - 1,785 - were the highest number in a single day since the exercise began on August 15. Three major civil service unions yesterday put forward more than 250 nominees - one day after the government ban on senior civil servants joining the committee was upheld by the courts. Speculation was rife that two Executive Councillors - Dr Raymond Ch'ien Kuo-fung and Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen - would submit applications. Last night, the Governor's spokesman Kerry McGlynn said: 'Our position is that we would cross that bridge if and when we came to it. The Governor would obviously need to consult Exco.' A government source said there would be a conflict of roles if Exco members joined the committee, because of the differences over the provisional legislature. Neither Dr Ch'ien nor Mr Cheng could be reached for comment. The deputy secretary-general of the Preparatory Committee, Shiu Sin-por, said he was not surprised about the response, which he said reflected public interest in the work of the Selection Committee. The chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association, Peter Wong Hyo, said the ban on senior civil servants was too rigid. The association submitted 23 nominees yesterday, while the Government Employees' Association sent in 190 nominations. The association's chairman, Cheng Chung-wai, said the response from members was stronger than expected. The New Territories Association of Societies, a pro-China rural group, submitted more than 200 names. Representative Wan Lam said: 'I hope all of them get a seat.' At least half of the incumbent legislators have joined the race. Among the hopefuls are legislators from the Liberal Party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong and the Association of Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL). Frederick Fung Kin-kee, the ADPL chairman who has challenged the need for setting up the provisional legislature, said at least 12 members had expressed interest. Mr Fung, the only Preparatory Committee member to vote against the provisional legislature, said his nomination would test whether those who opposed the plan would be punished. The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Director, Lu Ping , has said Mr Fung would be barred from the Selection Committee because of his opposition to the provisional legislature. Mr Fung responded: 'Hong Kong people do not like to see someone being rewarded simply because he pleased China, while being punished if he does not. 'How much power Mr Lu has now depends on whom the Preparatory Committee members choose,' he said.