The DAB plans to field fewer candidates in the District Council elections but aims to win more seats in a bid to regain the ground it lost in the 2003 poll. Party chairman Ma Lik said the party hoped to win more than 100 seats in the polls late this year. He said about 40 per cent of its more than 130 candidates would be new faces or non-incumbents. 'We know it's very difficult to have a 20 per cent increase over our existing 80-plus members, but we will strive to reach this goal by a concerted effort and co-ordination with other groups,' the party leader said. He said the party had discussed co-ordination efforts with the Liberal Party, which plans to field about 80 candidates, and an understanding had been reached that candidates from both parties would avoid clashing with each other. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong suffered a huge setback in the 2003 district council elections held after the 500,000-strong July 1 march in protest against national security legislation. The party secured just 62 of the 206 seats it contested. It now has a total of 82 district councillors, including elected and appointed members. Mr Ma also said the party faced an uphill battle in keeping its 12 seats on the Legislative Council in next year's poll and that its strategy for that election would be finalised after taking into account the outcome of the district council polls. He said that as the party approached its 15th anniversary on July 10, other challenges it faced included achieving the target of increasing its membership from 8,400-plus to 10,000 by July, as well as raising the quality of its members to turn the party into a 'cross-sectional' one. In light of the aim to expand the party's membership, Mr Ma said it had formed a working group - convened by its vice-chairwoman, Maria Tam Wai-chu - to review its leadership structure. 'It is expected that the review will be completed in two to three weeks' time,' he said, adding that any change would involve amending the party's constitution. The leadership election in late April would reflect such changes. Mr Ma, who has said his health is improving after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in August 2004, said he would stand for the central committee election. Asked if he would seek re-election as chairman, he said: 'I think I should continue my contribution [to the party].'