New legislator is forced to learn fast

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 October, 2008, 12:00am

The newly elected lawmaker for the insurance sector said he expected to learn tough lessons in politics.

With almost all of his working career spent in the business sector, election for Chan Kin-por, 54, chief executive of Munich Re Hong Kong, represents his first foray into the world of politics and public affairs.

And, he said, his electioneering experience had already removed some of the rosy tint from his glasses.

'Many voters expressed support for me when I visited them, but it turned out that quite a few didn't cast a vote for me at the ballot box,' he said, adding that he expected to win in the first round.

Mr Chan won his seat in September's election by defeating Choy Chung-foo, former HSBC greater China insurance head, with 60 votes to 52 in the second round of vote counting, while incumbent Bernard Chan decided not to run.

Challenges continue. Mr Chan, expected to speak on behalf of the insurance sector, was criticised for not saying anything to reassure the public when the global credit crunch hit insurer American International Assurance (AIA), a local arm of American International Group (AIG), in mid-September.

Mr Chan said that was his second political lesson.

'At that time, I thought I didn't have as much information on the AIA financial situation as the government did,' Mr Chan said, and he worried that without adequate information, any comment could be misleading.

'Therefore, I had to be careful and decided to only comment once the government explained the incident to the public,' he said.

But he admitted he should do more in future. 'Next time, I may come out to say a few words of comfort at least,' he said.

As a Legislative Council newcomer, he said he needed to learn much more from the veterans. Joining The Alliance (now called the Professional Forum) could be an option, but he preferred to wait a few months to get a better grip on Legco's workings first.

Mr Chan is planning to join the financial affairs, economic development, environmental affairs and constitutional affairs panels, and he admitted it would be impossible for any lawmaker to participate in all Legco's works.

'Maybe it's necessary to exchange views with other lawmakers,' he said, but stressed joining an alliance would not affect his voting.