Youngest legislator to call time after 10 years as envoy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 June, 2006, 12:00am

Bernard Charnwut Chan, 41, the youngest member of the executive and legislative councils, has decided not to stand again in the 2008 election.

Mr Chan joined Legco eight years ago as the insurance sector's representative. 'In two years I will have had a seat for 10 years and that is enough. It is time to let other people take it,' he told White Collar.

And he has a potential successor in mind - former General Insurance Council chairman Jackie Chun.

'Of course the voters will decide who will replace me in Legco but I would like to support Mr Chun if he decides to stand,' Mr Chan said. 'Mr Chun has been very active, performing public duties in the insurance sector. He also has knowledge of medical insurance, which will be very important as the government introduces medical reforms.'

Mr Chun was chairman of the insurance council in 2003 and was involved in the debate over insurance cover for medical staff following the Sars outbreak.

Unlike Mr Chan, who ran for Legco having had only one year's experience managing his father's insurance company, Mr Chun is a 30-year veteran of the insurance market, at present working for reinsurer Miller Insurance.

Mr Chun said that he had not made any decision about the possibility of becoming a politician but would continue to work for and promote the insurance industry.

dip into war chest

There can't be many people who get to decide how to spend $4.5 billion but that's what Mr Chan, the president of Asia Financial Holdings, had to do last week after the company received the money from selling its banking unit, Asia Commercial Bank, to Malaysia's Public Bank.

Numerous financial planners offered all kinds of investment proposals to Mr Chan but in the end he opted to take a 10 per cent stake in Cambodia Life, the country's first life insurance company, for about $5 million.

The insurer is 50 per cent owned by the Cambodian government, 20 per cent by the Singapore government's investment arm, with the remaining 30 per cent now equally distributed between Asia Financial Group, Bangkok Insurance and Salim Group's Central Asia Insurance.

'There is no other player in the market so we are sure it will be a good investment opportunity,' Mr Chan said.

new career beckons

The insurance sector is always looking for experienced financial professionals to sell its investment products, making it a good industry to join in middle age.

'It is never too late to start your second career,' said Charlton Mui Sau-ching (left), an investment consultant of Manulife (International) and this week's podcast guest.

Before joining the industry a few years ago, Mr Mui had been a foreign exchange trader in Hong Kong and Singapore for more than 20 years. Tired of staring at terminals to trade in the US dollar, pound or yen, he opted for something with a more personal touch.

'I made more money when I was a forex trader but I find the insurance sector gives me more satisfaction. I feel so good when I see how the policies can help people and their families,' he said.

The first person to buy an insurance policy from him was his tai chi master. Mr Mui still enjoys the martial art which he says keeps him healthy and active. To listen to the interview, tune in to

board follows script

It was like something out of the Hollywood movie, 12 Angry Men.

In February, the board of the stock exchange voted 10-2 to narrow the trading spreads of all shares trading at less than $20. But on Friday, after lobbying by brokerage sector legislative councillor Chim Pui-chung, nicknamed the 'Angry Man from Chiu Chow', the board reversed the vote by the same 10-2 margin.

Brokers' representative board member Vincent Lee Kwan-ho said of the meeting: 'I felt like the lone voice in the movie 12 Angry Men where a jury initially votes 11-1 for a guilty verdict on a murder suspect but then is persuaded to change their minds and rule the suspect to be innocent.'