Pro-Beijing newspapers in Hong Kong have started defending Leung Chun-ying against accusations that he was involved in 'black gold politics', a development some see as another sign that Beijing favours Leung in the chief executive election. 'Black gold politics' refers to collusion between triad societies and politicians. Some observers took comments made by Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday as a sign Beijing was favouring Leung. Controversy arose after the University of Hong Kong students' union placed full-page adverts in eight newspapers on Monday calling on Leung to explain what happened at a February 10 dinner attended by rural leaders, members of Leung's campaign team and a controversial businessman known as 'Shanghai Boy'. But a signed commentary in Ta Kung Pao on Wednesday dismissed the advertisement campaign as 'inconsequential talk'. 'The advertisement gives the verdict that the chief executive election is ugly before the case is entirely cleared up. It is really nonsense and a divorce from reality,' it said. Wen Wei Po, another pro-Beijing paper, has also published reports about the advertisement campaign in recent days in a disapproving tone. The campaign, which cost the union HK$387,550, has drawn criticism. Many have asked whether the decision to run the adverts was politically motivated. A journalist from a pro-Beijing newspaper said it had received instructions from the central government's liaison office to defuse the attacks against Leung, who holds a commanding lead over his arch-rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen, in opinion polls. Dr Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Chinese University, believed some Hong Kong organisations affiliated with the central government might realise that Tang had no hope of winning the top job. 'Pro-Beijing newspapers' subtle defence of Leung is an indication that Leung's chances are becoming higher,' he said. In a Commercial Radio interview recorded on Monday and broadcast yesterday, Tang said: 'I will make my utmost efforts in my electioneering. The election result will not be a matter of my individual win or loss. What matters in the election is that Hong Kong has to win.' Last last month, he told his campaign staff that he would win. Political scientist Dixon Sing Ming said the change in tone probably showed Tang's diminishing confidence considering his low popularity and Beijing's attitude. New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee reiterated that in the past few months Tang and Leung's supporters had proposed that she become chief secretary in the next administration. Yesterday Ip, a former security secretary, did not rule out rejoining the government, but said no candidate had offered her any post. Meanwhile, the latest Chinese University poll found that for the first time more people believe Leung will be elected as chief executive than Tang. Commissioned by TVB, the poll found 41.2 per cent of more than 1,100 respondents think the former Executive Council convenor will win, compared with 39.8 per cent for Tang. But, apparently affected by the controversy over the February 10 dinner, Leung suffered a drop in both support rate and scores, of 10 percentage points and six marks respectively, being backed by 45 per cent of respondents and scoring 51 marks out of 100.Tang was backed by 23 per cent of those polled and scored 36 marks, an increase from 19 per cent and 33 marks in the previous poll.