HK bodies ask Legco for clout
By NAZVI CAREEM
LEADING National Olympic Committee officials have urged Hong Kong lawmakers to increase the democratic process in sport to protect the autonomy of the national associations.
Ronnie Wong Man-chiu and Con Conway, both high-ranking officials with the Amateur Sports Federation and Olympic Committee met with the Bills Committee of the Legislative Council yesterday.
They suggested that board members of the Government's sports funding arm, the Sports Development Board, be elected from within the national associations instead of being appointed.
Wong said the ASF&OC feels that three board members should be elected from within the leaders of the 60-odd associations.
Said Wong: ''Hong Kong itself is seeking more democracy and we think it should spread to sport as well.
''We have asked that a certain percentage of SDB board members be elected from among the national associations.
''This is in view of the fact that once the merger between the SDB and the Hong Kong Sports Institute takes place, the autonomy of the associations could be in jeopardy.'' SDB executive director Howard Wells would not comment last night.
David Gledhill is chairman of the SDB with York Chow as his vice-chairman. The 11-strong board contains seven appointed members and four ex-officio members, including ASF&OC president A. de. O Sales.
The SDB and HKSI are due to merge next April, but the merger has yet to be approved by the legislature with the third reading at the Legislative Council still pending.
Wong said the Bills Committee, set up to entertain submissions for new legislation before its final passing, welcomed his suggestions.
Former board member Mike Speak said the proposal could provoke electoral requests from other bodies who may feel they should be represented on the board.
Said Speak: ''As an ex-member and someone who sees it from a distance, I think it deserves to be considered.
''But should three members from the associations be elected, they may try to push their own sports. What about the other associations? ''The SDB is there not only for the associations. Representatives from the municipal and education departments may also feel that they should have elected people on the board.
''The outcome would be a massive board.'' Wong reiterated that the ASF&OC, for whom he is the secretary general, are not against the principles of the controversial merger.
''We have always said that the associations and ASF&OC are not against it,'' said Wong. ''We just feel that there was no consultation at all with the associations.
''In view of the merger affecting the autonomy of the association, we presented these views to the Bills Committee.'' The merger would unify the boards of the SDB and the institute with Wells to act as chief executive.
However, the SDB have assured institute officials that the Sha Tin complex would maintain its autonomy.
The SDB's role would be to provide funds when needed.
Wong said that he hopes the Government's localisation policy would also be extended to sport.
He said there is an urgent need to have bilingual people in senior positions.
The SDB have recently recruited David Mak and Martin So into top positions within the administrative structure.
Wells, whose contract ends in 1995, said earlier this month that he would make way for a local successor by April 1996, at the latest.