The government is seeking to stop some foreign consulates from voting in elections for a Legislative Council functional constituency and on the Election Committee, which selects the chief executive. Officials are in discussion with the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce - the city's largest commerce chamber - to change its membership rules so that its consulate members will not enjoy such voting rights. This is instead of using a legislative amendment to plug the legal loophole, as the governments frets that might create an opportunity for pan-democrats to seek changes to functional constituency rules. Controversy has arisen since it emerged that some non-local entities such as the Belgian consulate, Vienna's city representative office and the Xinhua sub-district office of Huadu district in Guangzhou are on the list of eligible voters because of their membership in the chamber. Under current electoral laws, full chamber members who are entitled to vote at its general meetings are also eligible to vote for one of the two commercial sector seats in Legco as long as they have been operating for the 12 months immediately before registering as a voter. A total of 1,039 corporations have registered as voters in the functional constituency, while 991 are registered in the corresponding sub-sector in the Election Committee. The chamber currently occupies 12 seats on the 800-strong committee, which will be expanded to 1,200 members before the next chief executive poll in 2012. While the government was aware of the legal loophole, it was afraid that a proposal to change the law would open a Pandora's box, triggering requests for other amendments to the electoral laws by legislators, especially pan-democrats, a person close to the administration said. Pan-democrat lawmakers have challenged the system, as Legco is deliberating on two bills for the amendment of chief executive and Legco election methods in 2012. Article 26 of the Basic Law states that permanent Hong Kong residents shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung argued at a Legco meeting last month that the present arrangement complied with the Basic Law because the voting representatives of corporations in a functional constituency must be permanent residents of Hong Kong. A person from the chamber, who preferred to speak anonymously, acknowledged government officials had approached it to discuss the issue. Chamber leaders agree that the non-local entities should be excluded as constituents, and are considering refining membership regulations so that the members in question would be categorised in a new way, according to two insiders. 'I believe these consulate members will not mind,' said the second person from the chamber. 'Their main reason for joining the chamber is to promote economic exchanges between Hong Kong and their countries by building up business networks here. Why would they join the chamber for one vote?' Currently, the chamber accepts companies running businesses in Hong Kong as full members, while overseas and mainland corporations can join it as associate members. The two sources from the chamber said it was considering ways to change the membership status of the non-local entities without taking away their internal voting rights. Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, the Legco representative for the chamber, said: 'We review our membership system from time to time and will make amendments when we find it appropriate to do so.' League of Social Democrats lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung has threatened to seek a judicial review challenging the eligibility of foreign bodies to vote. He said the government was avoiding the real problem. 'Even if it asks the consulates not to vote, the law is still unconstitutional,' Leung said.