Ousted HKGCC Member Claims Election was “Unfair”

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The election to join HKGCC’s top brass was completed last week. Incumbent Mr Andrew Yuen calls foul on a letter from the Chairman. But maybe that’s just politics. Photo Credit: Provided.


 

The results of this year’s Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) General Committee (GC) elections during the May 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) have been announced. In a rare competition for seats on the (GC), incumbents Mr Andrew Yuen (袁耀全) and Mr KK Yeung (楊國琦) were replaced by chairman-backed Mr Leland Sun (孫立勳) and Mr Edmond Yue (余國賢).

At the AGM, HKGCC members elected a total of six members to fill the seats on the General Committee – the governing body of the Chamber – who were required to step down this year. While Mr Leland Sun and Mr Edmond Yue were elected for the first time, Victor Li (Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd), John Slosar (John Swire & Sons (HK) Ltd), Peter Wong (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited), and Betty Yuen (CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd), were re-elected onto the committee. Chairman Y K Pang (Hongkong Land), and Deputy Chairman Stephen Ng (Wharf (Holdings) Ltd) were also re-elected in their respective positions.

Several sources confirmed that a letter signed by chairman Mr Y K Pang was circulated among HKGCC members prior to the election. In the letter, the chairman singled out four candidates he supported for the AGM elections, including newcomers Mr Sun and Mr Yue. A source also revealed that Mr KK Yeung had withdrawn his candidacy as a result of the e-mail.

Mr Yuen criticised the chairman for issuing the letter prior to the elections. “The letter is not a secret, everyone in GCC knows about it.” he says. “It wasn’t appropriate for a Chairman [to issue the letter]. They said it was nothing personal (對事不對人), but in fact it was quite the opposite (對人不對事).” Mr Yuen said he complained to a member of the board and provided a copy of the letter at their request, but hasn’t heard from him since.

Mr Sun, on the other hand, thinks the letter was fair game. “A lot of people wrote e-mails as part of the lobbying process,” reveals Mr Sun. “I’m sure [Mr Y K Pang] was just writing in capacity as a member. Even Obama lobbies for his Democratic Party members.” Mr Sun himself says he sent out a similar letter to about 200 HKGCC members he was connected with. “Everybody had a chance to lobby and campaign. The election was fair,” says Mr Sun.

As reported by HT in early May, the contested nature reflected a departure from expected practice and may yet mean a change in the status quo. Sources claim that, incumbents Mr Yuen and Mr Yeung were supposed to resign after 16 years on the General Committee, as part of a long running genteel consensus that normally sees positions go uncontested. Mr Yuen doesn’t agree.

Mr Yuen believes the rhetoric of the 16 year rule was part of a deliberate plan to discourage Mr KK Yeung and himself from running for re-election. “There are others who have sat for more than 16 years but were not targeted,” explains Mr Yuen. “It’s not fair (不公道).” The HKGCC was approached to confirm the number of years each member has sat on the GC but did not reply before the deadline of this story.

Mr Leland Sun disclosed that a resolution to formalise 16-year term limits for GC members in the by-laws was passed at the AGM. According to Mr Sun, while it wasn’t unanimous, the resolution was still passed by a large margin. Before, a gentlemen’s agreement exists where members are expected to resign after 16 years on the committee. Mr Yuen believes that the rule might not be welcomed by all, “there are some [GC members] with vested interests, and their memberships are reaching the 16-year mark. I believe they don’t want to leave.”

It is not clear whether the chairman’s letter was influential on the results. A request for the vote count results from HT was not answerd before our print deadline. Mr Yuen claims that while many of the corporate voters cast their votes for someone else, he got quite a lot of votes from SMEs. Mr Sun also says, to his memory, Mr Yuen at least received a three-digit vote count.

When asked what he plans next, Mr Yuen says he is thinking it over, and adds cautiously, “there’s a lot of politics involved.”