An all-party coalition needs reviving in order to reach consensus on constitutional reform, the Liberal Party chief said yesterday, and quickly won support both from allies and rivals. They said the idea could serve as a platform for negotiating a proposal for achieving universal suffrage that is acceptable to all, but some questioned whether government allies could be persuaded to abolish the functional constituencies which return half the legislature. Mr Tien said Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's pledge to resolve the issue of universal suffrage was 'difficult to understand' because even with 60 per cent public support for such a goal, political parties in the Legislative Council would need convincing before a reform proposal could be passed. 'Donald [Tsang] cannot expect automatic support in Legco, even if public opinion supports a proposal. If he wants everybody to say the sandwich he made is good, he should involve them all in making the sandwich,' Mr Tien said. 'When we had the eight-party coalition, it was much easier to reach a consensus,' he said. Between 1998 and 2004, seven political parties and the former Breakfast Group of non-affiliated legislators formed a loose coalition to push for livelihood issues after building consensus in the legislature. The government, under former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, was forced to adjust many policies, such as government fees and charges, after the rivals formed a united front. But the alliance lost power to pressurise the government after Mr Tien was appointed an executive councillor in 2002 and the Breakfast Group, now called The Alliance, pulled out of the coalition. Mr Tien said talks could start after next year's Legco election, which would change the balance of power in the chamber. He said the best way to build consensus on a reform proposal that would get the two-thirds support in Legco required by the Basic Law was through a cross-party coalition. Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, supported the principle of Legco consensus-building, saying: 'It has been proven to work in the past.' Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, leader of the Civic Party, said negotiations on the reform proposal should be carried out in Legco rather than within the Commission on Strategic Development, the 152-member advisory panel which is now working on the issue. But she said it might be difficult to achieve consensus because government loyalists were reluctant to scrap the functional constituencies. Ip Kwok-him, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said: 'We will not oppose any opportunity for discussions, but I am not entirely optimistic on the eight-party coalition. We know well that while consensus can be reached with the democrats on livelihood issues, constitutional reform is another matter.'