Pro-Beijing politicians have called on Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to give up his knighthood as he runs for chief executive to avoid criticism of his colonial-era connections. Ma Lik, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, said Mr Tsang, who Queen Elizabeth knighted in 1997, should consider relinquishing the honour so people with strong nationalistic sentiments would not find fault with him. 'The chief executive is part of China's officialdom and he should not hold a British knighthood,' the DAB leader said. 'The public will feel more comfortable if Mr Tsang forfeits his knighthood.' After becoming acting chief executive in March, Mr Tsang said he would never relinquish his knighthood because it was a reward for his 30-year service in the colonial government and there was no question over his allegiance. Mr Ma, also a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, said Mr Tsang should follow the example of former chief justice Sir Ti-liang Yang who gave up his knighthood in 1996 when he ran in the first chief executive poll. Sir Ti-liang made the move to distance himself from the city's colonial past, but the knighthood was conferred again in 2000. DAB lawmaker Choy So-yuk agreed it would be better if Mr Tsang gave up his KBE (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) to remove any doubts over his allegiance. Ms Choy said she had received letters from the public urging Mr Tsang to drop the title because loyalty to the central government was at stake. On RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong last month, a pro-Beijing legislator criticised Mr Tsang as arrogant and disrespectful of patriotic values. A diplomatic source said: 'I am not sure whether he can give up his knighthood just like that, because the only person who can approve it is the queen.'