Chairman pledges backing if chief executive maintains present level of popularity The Liberal Party will support a second term for Donald Tsang Yam-kuen as chief executive if he maintains his present level of popularity in March, party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said yesterday. Mr Tien said neither his party nor the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong planned to field any challengers to Mr Tsang and he hoped the chief executive would include the Liberals in a ruling coalition in his administration. In his first media briefing since the pan-democrats' strong showing in Sunday's Election Committee poll paved the way for a challenge by the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit, Mr Tien said there was no reason Mr Tsang, who has yet to declare his candidacy, would not receive the Liberals' votes. He said his party's position was that the person it supported should have a high popularity rating and a platform that identifies with the Liberal Party and the interests of the business community. 'Although there are variables in the next two months, I don't expect there would be much change in Donald's ratings in light of the current wide gap between him and Alan. 'While we won't support anyone who pushes for a minimum wage, it seems both Donald and Alan want it so they sort of cancel each other out on that front. 'We will, of course, support Donald in the March election,' Mr Tien said. The tycoon, who had a short-lived plan to run against Mr Tsang in the last chief executive election, said he would not make use of his allies' 100-plus seats on the Election Committee, which could, in theory, give him an entry ticket. Mr Tien dropped his plan to mount a challenge following the results of a popularity survey. 'I could have done it last time, but I didn't. The Liberal Party is not fielding any candidate, and the DAB also told me they won't field any.' Asked about the conditions Mr Tsang must fulfil in exchange for the party's support, Mr Tien said the Liberals were not asking for any ministerial seats or more Executive Council positions. 'We would be criticised for taking advantages under this system,' Mr Tien said. 'The only thing the party wants is for Donald to form a ruling coalition, but of course, he might find it a bit difficult.' Mr Tien said he was sure individual party members in different trades would voice their demands when asked to give nominations. Party lawmakers are expected to meet Mr Tsang in a monthly meeting today. Mr Tien said three issues - a minimum wage, a fair competition law and an anti-race-discrimination bill - could affect Mr Tsang's standing in the business community. He also said the change of mindset by some business professionals resulting in more support for the pan-democrats would affect the Liberal Party's plan to gain more seats in some professional-based functional constituencies in the 2008 Legislative Council election.