Fears of 'hidden members' in Election Committee poll Beijing is seeking a membership list for the newly formed Civic Party, fearing 'hidden members' could join this year's Election Committee poll. Sources close to the central government said officials from its liaison office in Hong Kong had been asking veteran professionals and businessmen from the city over the past month whether they had joined the new pro-democracy party. The Civic Party, launched in March, has kept its membership list confidential, as do all parties in the city, because of privacy concerns. Bernard Lim Wan-fung, a former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, said an official from the liaison office asked about his political affiliation three weeks ago during a study trip in Guangzhou. 'He asked whether I had joined the Civic Party. I just told him that I hadn't,' he said. A member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who did not want to be named, said Beijing was concerned 'hidden members' from the Civic Party could join the Election Committee poll later this year. A date for the election has still to be set. 'Beijing is very much concerned because the Civic Party is stronger than the Democratic Party. I know people from the liaison office have been asking around about the membership list. 'It is easier to be elected to the Election Committee if you are regarded as politically neutral. They are worried that there could be hidden party members in the upcoming election,' he said. 'They want to know which Election Committee candidates are from the Civic Party so that they can better plan their strategy.' The 800-strong committee will select the next chief executive in early 2007. Under the present rules, candidates for the committee are not required to declare their political affiliation. The pro-democracy camp is hoping to secure more than the required 100 seats on the committee to nominate its own candidate for the chief executive election. Another CPPCC member, who also requested anonymity, said: 'Beijing needs to know who the members are, and their backgrounds, to determine the party's links with business tycoons and big corporations. I believe that they have already identified most of the party members.' Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, a Civic Party vice-chairman, said there were no business tycoons among the party's 130 members. Most of the members were professionals, he said.