Power struggle splits judo body
A POWERFUL rebel group headed by former chairman Wong Siu-ming have claimed leadership of the Hongkong Judo Association - splitting the body into two factions.
Wong and his supporters have formed their own hierarchy under the Hongkong Judo Association banner after being barred from running for office at the body's annual meeting on June 20, attended by 49 of the 52 member clubs.
Incumbent chairman Henry Shing Yuen-hing barred Wong and other rival candidates from seeking high-ranking committee positions because they did not sign papers confirming loyalty to duties if elected.
Of the 49 club representatives who attended last month's meeting, 28 refused to vote in a show of support for Wong's administration.
The split has resulted in two sets of office-bearers claiming to represent the association, with Shing and Wong both declaring themselves chairman.
It is the second major split for the body. In 1987, disgruntled clubs broke away from the association to form the Hongkong Judo Federation.
Lui Hon-wah, secretary of both parties but siding with the rebels, said: ''Never in the past were nominees required to sign any confirmation letters. This was just an excuse to keep outsiders from holding office.
''Our party is not trying to dictate the sport. We have the support of 28 of the 52 clubs with voting rights and we are speaking for the majority.
''We love judo and we don't want to see the sport in Hongkong deteriorate any further in the hands of these incompetent officials.'' Shing, who is likely to get the all-important support of the Amateur Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (ASF & OC), said Wong had no right to declare himself chairman.
''We did not accept their nomination papers because the nominees did not sign a confirmation they will accept the position if elected. This is all written very clearly in our by-laws.
''We are recognised by the ASF & OC as the official Hongkong Judo Association.'' The Sports Development Board - the government-backed sports funding body - have made it clear that they will not fund two bodies and will seek ASF & OC guidance.
Howard Wells, the SDB executive director, said: ''We will continue to provide expenses and salaries for their two office staff.
''But we will refuse cash requests for any other activities until we know who is in charge of the association. We will wait until the ASF & OC informs us who they will be recognising.'' ASF & OC president A. de O. Sales said the rebels, although representing the majority of clubs in the association, were unlikely to be recognised, dooming them to the same fate as the federation in 1987.
But Sales hopes peace will one day be restored to the association ranks.
''We only recognise the existing ruling body,'' said Sales. ''The incumbent people are the existing body. Anybody else is not recognised.
''Anyway, we have people working on it. There are plenty of other things for the ASF & OC to do rather than worrying about the judo people cutting each other's throats.'' The rebel group have invited all 52 member clubs to attend an extraordinary general meeting on July 21 in the hope of establishing themselves as the association's ruling party.
Shing, however, said Wong had no authority to call the meeting and the association were seeking legal advice on how to prevent the rebels from carrying out any activities under the association banner.
Said Shing: ''They've been sending out notices using our letterhead and this has created a lot of confusion among our members.''