A likely challenge to James Tien Pei-chun in the General Chamber of Commerce seat in May is being linked to his commitments to the Liberal Party. Chamber chairman Mr Tien is a leading candidate to succeed party leader Allen Lee Peng-fei. The threat of a challenge in the Commercial (First) seat on May 24 comes from former executive councillor and appointed legislator Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen. Mr Cheng's likely political comeback - prompted by provisional legislator and merchant banker Paul Cheng Ming-fun - is seen as an attempt to reduce perceptions the chamber is tied to the Liberal Party. But Mr Tien is bullish about his chances. 'Paul can only give limited support to Vincent,' Mr Tien said. But Mr Vincent Cheng, an executive director of Hongkong Bank without party affiliation, is seen by some chamber members as an ideal candidate. These members fear the consequences of having a party leader in the seat. 'We are worried that the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce will become a subsidiary of the Liberal Party,' one member said. Asked how would he allay such fears, Mr Tien said: 'So far, I have only heard that Paul Cheng was worried about it. Let's leave it for the voters to decide.' Furthermore, Mr Tien said, should he win the seat, he would become his party's helmsman only with the support of the chamber's 1,200 voters. 'If they do not want me to take up the chairmanship, I will not do so,' he said. 'Regardless of whether it is Paul Cheng, Vincent Cheng or anyone else who is going to contest the seat, I have confidence in myself.' Mr Tien believed Mr Paul Cheng would have a better chance of winning than Mr Vincent Cheng. 'After all, Paul has done several years of work [in the chamber]. Vincent has never done anything . . . never mind the fact that he is a banker. 'People will ask why a banker doesn't contest the banking functional constituency,' Mr Tien said. Mr Tien is set to step down as the chamber's chairman after two years on April 27. Mr Vincent Cheng has confirmed that many friends had urged him to stand. 'Some have made the request but I will not comment on it,' he said. It is understood Mr Vincent Cheng would announce his candidacy once HSBC Holdings chairman Sir William Purves had given the go-ahead.