Worsening inflation could mean the return of a recession to Hong Kong more severe than during the Asian financial crisis a decade ago, Executive Councillor Bernard Chan has warned. He said the city had not suffered much yet. 'Inflation has pushed up commodity prices, but the business sector in general has not been hit severely. If overseas economies get worse, and we are in turn affected, we will probably see what we saw during 1997 [financial crisis],' he said. 'We do not yet know if the problem is only because of, say, the subprime issue, or property price issues, or if it has spread to the credit card business, causing bad debt problems. But one thing that is certain is that this time could probably be worse than the financial crisis ... [It] only affected Asia. But this time it is a global problem.' Mr Chan said Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was trying to address the problem. He acknowledged during a Commercial Radio show that the appointment of deputy ministers and political assistants might have caused some public discontent with the Tsang administration, but he believed Mr Tsang's falling popularity was largely due to the worsening economy. Mr Chan, who has decided to stand down after representing the insurance sector in the Legislative Council for 10 years, said he wanted to spend more time with his family. But he stressed he was not quitting community service. As chairman of the Council of Social Service, he said he wanted to help the sector understand more about the hardships of the grass roots. He also urged the sector to take part more in politics. 'If we agree that 2020 is the right time to have universal suffrage [for Legco], ... we should allow some room for professionals to take part [in elections]. If you ask the professionals to take part ... their chances [of winning] are slim. Functional constituencies are a good means, but it is not a perfect system.' Mr Chan belongs to The Alliance group of pro-Beijing legislators with no party affiliation.