Many members believe their secretary-general, Ma Lik, will give the party a fresh start and tap into the middle class A critic of Tung Chee-hwa's administration is expected to succeed Tsang Yok-sing tonight as chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong. It is understood that the core members of the DAB have agreed to elect Ma Lik, the party's secretary-general. They believe the Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress will give the party a fresh outlook and help it reach out to the middle class. Many party members also believe Mr Ma's succession can help the pro-government party reposition itself in the wake of the huge setback it suffered in last month's district council elections. DAB vice-chairmen Tam Yiu-chung and Lo Chi-keung are also vying for the position. The party's standing committee is scheduled to elect a new chairman tonight. The DAB central committee officially accepted Mr Tsang's resignation as party chief last Tuesday. He accepted responsibility for the party's dismal performance in the district council polls. Mr Ma, one of the founders of the DAB, has been critical of the Tung administration. Many DAB members said the party would distance itself from the government if Mr Ma took the helm. DAB sources said Mr Ma, with his educational and professional background, was more receptive to the issues concerning middle-class voters compared with other candidates. Mr Ma, 51, worked as a secondary school teacher after graduating from the Chinese University. He was chief editor of the pro-Beijing Commercial Daily before working for the DAB on a full-time basis in the mid-1990s. Mr Tam, vice-chairman of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions and a former executive councillor, had been tipped to take the helm of the DAB after Mr Tsang tendered his resignation on November 24. 'Many party members consider that it would not bring significant changes to our party if Mr Tam is elected party chief because his style is similar to Mr Tsang,' a DAB source said, adding that the Federation of Trade Unions did not want Mr Tam to take charge of the DAB. Mr Ma said on July 1 that the 500,000-strong march was a sign of people's discontent with the Tung administration, which had become 'divorced from the masses' on many issues. The DAB secretary-general said earlier that his party might not support some government policies in the future if they were inconsistent with the interests of the people of Hong Kong. Mr Ma declined to comment yesterday on whether he would take up the party chairmanship. Some members argue that Mr Ma's major shortcoming is that he is not in the Legislative Council. But DAB vice-chairman Ip Kwok-him said being a Legco member was not a condition to becoming party chairman, saying Mr Tsang had not been a lawmaker until 1998. Chan Tak-ming, a member of the DAB central committee, said he supported Mr Ma as the next chairman. 'His relatively critical stance towards the government may help convince members of the public that we really intend to reposition ourselves,' Mr Chan said. It is understood the DAB's standing committee is likely to discuss whether Mr Tsang should remain in the Executive Council or whether the new chairman should join Mr Tung's cabinet. The DAB's central committee members and heads of regional branches are due to discuss the party's future relation with the government and how to reposition itself at a day camp on Sunday.