When Citizens Party chairwoman Christine Loh Kung-wai announced she would not be standing in next month's election because she felt she could work more effectively if freed from the constraints of the Legislative Council, she was acting out frustrations felt by all sides of the house. But even colleagues who sympathised with her thought the decision misplaced. Members may not be as effective in controlling the executive as their counterparts would be in a full democracy, but they do possess important powers that give people a say in how their society is run. Among these is the ability to call the Government to account and investigate maladministration in high places. Even if the voice of the electorate is reduced to a whisper under the present system, it is still heard. And it counts for more than might otherwise seem the case. Amazingly, in spite of Legco's limitations and the fact that the public are equally dissatisfied with its toothlessness, it appears to assume greater significance in the local consciousness as each election comes along. The number of new candidates contesting seats next month bears this out. With four more seats in the geographical constituencies, a lively contest is in prospect. For example, David Lan Hong-tsung, former Secretary for Home Affairs, will not be the first official to cross the floor from civil servant to politician. He has set himself the mission of trying to smooth the way for policy objectives which the naysayers in Legco have kept at bay. In the functional constituencies, new faces also join the battle for the legal, banking and property seats. More names may come forward before the deadline for nominations closes today. But while numbers matter, it is quality that counts. The jury is still out on whether the eventual winners are going to measure up to their new responsibilities. If new voters participate in direct proportion to the number of new candidates, there should be many more ballots cast than in past polls. The best measure of voter interest, of course, is how many actually vote. So in spite of setbacks - and the urgings of some self-interested citizens to preserve a system which gives them undue influence in the running of the SAR - the more votes cast, the stronger the pressure for introducing universal suffrage at an early date.