The Liberal Party will continue to support Michael Tien Puk-sun despite his break with the organisation almost two weeks ago, party elders said yesterday. Liberal Party politicians promised not to compete against him in Legislative Council elections in 2012, and even to extend a helping hand in his campaigning work. 'If Tien is to contest a seat in the New Territories West constituency, the Liberal Party probably would not send candidates there,' former vice-chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said in a radio programme. 'Especially since our split was due to [mutual] understanding.' The party has traditionally represented business interests but Tien said he had ideologically drifted from the right to the political centre. Chow yesterday said Tien's withdrawal from the party was inevitable and that it would affect the party's preparations for the 2012 Legco direct elections. 'He was in charge of our geographical constituency election planning,' she said. 'So there is abundant work to take over from him.' Tien's resignation on November 19 was a result of months of disagreement with the party on labour issues. Among them was his support for a boycott of Cafe de Coral after the fast-food chain said it would end paid meal breaks for workers in return for a token pay rise. The company has since agreed to pay workers during meal breaks. Chow said she would team up with Tien's elder brother, the party's former chairman James Tien Pei-chun, in taking up district work and supervising the party's new strategy to compete in functional and geographical constituency elections. James Tien yesterday met the party's district councillors to discuss what tasks they needed to work on in light of his brother's resignation. The older Tien said the party would strive to gain more seats in the direct elections. Currently, its three lawmakers represent trade-based functional constituencies in the legislature. 'We care both about livelihood issues and businesses,' he said of the party. He said it was too early to say if he or Chow would contest the direct Legco elections. The two political heavyweights lost in Legco's direct elections in 2008.