A pro-government political organisation plans to field nearly 30 candidates in next year's district council election and will strive to contest seats in all five geographical constituencies in the 2008 Legislative Council poll. In a departure from its low profile in the past, New Century Forum, which has positioned itself as a political commentary group since it was formed in 1999, will also study the possibility of becoming a political party in the future. The Forum's deputy convenor, Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, said the group planned to back between 20 and 30 candidates in next year's district council election. The group currently has eight district councillors. Forum members who took part in the 2003 district council poll were not asked to stand in the group's name. The organisation has been reduced to a political lightweight since its convenor, Ma Fung-kwok, decided not to seek re-election as a lawmaker two years ago for family reasons. Its sole candidate in the direct Legislative Council election in 2004, Lui Hau-tuen, lost in New Territories West, clinching just 4,511 votes. Lui Ming-wah, who represents the industrial sector in the legislature, is the only Forum member returned as a legislator in 2004, but he used to speak in the capacity of a member of another pro-government group, The Alliance. The Forum's executive secretary, Chan Tak-ming, said the group - whose members are mainly professionals and academics - would concentrate its efforts in forthcoming elections on constituencies where the majority of voters are middle-class. 'We hope at least half of our candidates, who will concentrate on constituencies on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, will win in the 2007 district council election,' Mr Chan said. He added that the forum planned to contest seats in all five geographical constituencies in the 2008 Legco election. 'We think there is potential for organisations taking a moderate political stance, like our group, to woo the support of middle-income earners because some may not support the platforms of major parties such as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Liberal Party,' he said. The Forum supports the introduction of universal suffrage as soon as possible and backs the idea of setting a timetable for full democracy, Mr Chan said. Political scientist Ma Ngok predicted a grim outlook for the Forum's election campaign because public recognition of the group was quite low. 'The Forum has failed to build up its own brand name since its establishment.'