New members to stay on sidelines in election battle

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 May, 2009, 12:00am

The battle to take control of the Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA) took a strange twist yesterday when the Hong Kong Cricket Club (HKCC) withdrew 161 new members who will now not take part in Friday's vote to elect a president and chairman of the governing body.

This year's HKCA annual general meeting has created huge interest due to incumbents Terry Smith (president) and Darren Tucker (chairman) facing an unprecedented challenge from Pakistan Association's Shahzada Saleem and Little Sai Wan's Sohail Murshed respectively.

Both parties upped the ante late last week by filing applications for new voting members - the HKCC coming up with 161 and the Independents with 230. An additional 30 new members were also processed, but it is not known where their affiliations lie.

'We got one batch of 161 new members from HKCC last Thursday, and on Friday there was an additional 260 of which 230 were from the other camp,' HKCA treasurer Dinesh Tandon said yesterday.

All of the new applications were processed before the cut-off last Friday and were within the legal framework.

'The deadline was May 22 and legally, they can all vote at the elections on Friday,' Tandon said. 'Anyone who is registered and is a fully paid-up member can vote at the AGM.'

But in an extraordinary turnaround, the HKCC yesterday informed HKCA general manager Charles Lau it has decided to withdraw all its new members from voting, although it had not asked for refunds on the annual membership fees of HK$420 per person.

'I don't know why they have taken this step. Maybe they have realised that while it is not legally wrong, it might not be the morally right thing to do,' Tandon said.

Smith, who is in London this week, said he was unaware of the reasons for HKCC's decision to withdraw the new members. 'I've no idea,' Smith said. 'I'm not in day-to-day contact with the HKCC.'

Top HKCC official Tony Melloy was unavailable for comment yesterday. Smith, who has been president since 1996, has labelled the challenge by Saleem and Murshed as nothing more than a 'naked grab for money and power'. He has charged that the challengers are intent on squandering the HKCA's reserves on contracting senior players.

However, the challengers insist their bid is fuelled by a desire for better communication between the hierarchy and the rank and file, and bridge a growing divide in the local game.

All the machinations surrounding the massive influx of new members - which has now almost doubled the original HKCA membership - has had an unexpected dividend as it raked in almost HK$177,000 in membership fees.

'It is a nice bonus for the HKCA. But it is pretty sad that it has come down to the situation where one is virtually buying a position,' Tandon said. 'Maybe we will have to look at this issue in the future because the system is open to manipulation.'

Civil war

Incumbents look to be fighting a losing battle following pullouts

The Independents filed for this many new members of the HKCA last week: 230