The Liberal Party is trying to drum up support with a new scheme that gives discounts in shops - including two run by chairman James Tien Pei-chun. More than 500 people have joined the new initiative, called 'Friends of the Liberals', as affiliated members since it was launched about a fortnight ago. The 'friends' will be able to join activities and study courses and enjoy discounts at designated shops, including the two fashion-chain shops run by Mr Tien. The discounts are being offered by businesses owned by Liberal Party members and some of their business contacts. Party leaders hope it will provide a new channel for people who do not want to join the party but are interested in taking part in its activities. Mr Tien said the aim was to win support for the party at the grassroots level. 'Through Friends of the Liberals we hope people will know more about the party and get to know party news. 'This is a step for the party as it moves towards direct elections,' said Mr Tien, who won a district council seat in his direct-vote debut in the Peak constituency in November. He hoped the party would be able to recruit more volunteers through the new programme. 'We could afford to spend more on elections, but it is hard for us to find volunteers. Other political parties do not have this problem.' He said it was normal for a fraternal group to offer benefits to its members, similar to teachers' unions.