Candidates declare election bids four days ahead of the nomination period A number of Legislative Council hopefuls kicked off their election campaigns yesterday, four days before the start of the official nomination period for candidates. Among the early birds were Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, who is running for Hong Kong Island, retired ICAC officer Char Shik-ngor, and the Democratic Party's Lee Wing-tat in New Territories West. The pro-democracy camp unveiled its top five candidates in New Territories East as Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, Emily Lau Wai-hing, Ronny Tong Ka-wah, Wong Shing-chi and Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong. They said they were confident of winning at least four seats. Lee Wing-tat, who is leading one of two Democrat tickets in New Territories West, said an internal survey suggested he would get 8 to 9 per cent of the votes, which should secure him victory. 'I can't say I will have a safe victory, but there is still a good chance of winning,' he said. He faces heavyweight rivals including the Liberal Party's Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, unionists Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Yiu-chung, and the vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, Tam Yiu-chung. The functional constituency polls also attracted at least four aspirants yesterday: Manuel Chan Tim-shing and Ronald Fung Leung-lo in the wholesale and retail sector; Patrick Lau Sau-shing of the architectural, surveying and planning sector; and John Luk Wang-kwong in the engineering sector. The two-week nomination period for the September polls will begin on Thursday. The 60 seats will be equally divided into functional and geographical constituencies. Mr Char, standing in New Territories West as an independent, pledged to fight for the rights of minorities and the underprivileged. The former senior assignment officer in the Independent Commission Against Corruption retired this year after 28 years of service. Patrick Lau, former head of the University of Hong Kong's architecture department, announced his bid in the architectural and surveying sector with more than 50 supporters. He claimed he had already secured support from 300 surveyors, architect and planners. The race will be one of the most intense with five other possible candidates: incumbent Lau Ping-cheung, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Coalition of Professional Services; senior Sun Hung Kai Properties executive Roger Nissam; former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, Kenneth Chan Jor-kin; architect Steve Chan Yiu-fai; and planner Stanley Ng Wing-fai of the Democratic Party. In the engineering constituency, incumbent Raymond Ho Chung-tai's hopes for an uncontested re-election were dashed when Dr Luk declared his challenge. Declaring his bid in the wholesale and retail constituency, former television presenter Ronald Fung Leung-lo conceded that he knew no more than 15 of the 4,000-plus voters of the sector. But he promised to fight a sales tax and strive to expand links on the mainland. His rivals are chairman of the Quality Tourism Services Association Vincent Fang, and chairman of Retail Management Association Yu Pang-chun.