Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday avoided the first public forum with his chief executive election rivals, with a large purple bow tie placed on a table to mark his absence. Legislator Chim Pui-chung and Democratic Party leader Lee Wing-tat attended the social welfare sector forum in Wan Chai at 10am while Mr Tsang was holding a closed-door meeting with 80 members of the Election Committee. Earlier, a caller to a Commercial Radio phone-in programme chided Mr Tsang for avoiding election debates. Mr Tsang has said that he will not debate any election rivals unless they gain the 100 Election Committee nominations needed to become a candidate. 'Since you announced [you were] standing in the election, your attitude has changed, becoming very wicked. You are also bad-tempered,' the caller said. He urged Mr Tsang, who pitched himself in his opening campaign speech as a humble salesman made good, to respect his rivals. 'You don't debate with them. They need to obtain the 100 nominations. That shows your arrogance.' However, three other callers were generally supportive of Mr Tsang's candidacy, with one praising him for having the courage to stand for the top office. At the forum, Mr Lee said Mr Tsang's no-show reflected the former chief secretary's selectiveness when it came to listening to opinions. Mr Lee had hoped to gain the support off all 36 members from the sector to push him over the 100 mark, but now he is counting on only 14 nominations from them. Organisers placed a big bow tie on a table in the seat reserved for Mr Tsang to mark his absence. Election Committee member Fung Ho-lup accused Mr Chim of being ignorant about the hardships of the underprivileged after listening to the financial services legislator's thoughts on the city's social situation. 'Maybe he has been rich and healthy for a long time, and so he does not have an idea of the basic needs of the poor,' said the associate professor of Chinese University's department of social work. Mr Chim had said the needy should try to help themselves instead of relying on the government or anybody else. He cited Hong Kong's richest man, tycoon Li Ka-shing, as an example for the needy of someone who achieved success from humble beginnings.