Saleem remains confident as rules change again

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 May, 2009, 12:00am

Challenger Shahzada Saleem remained confident he and Sohail Murshed would emerge victorious at today's battle for the top posts in cricket, despite the Hong Kong Cricket Association ruling that all new 'instant' members will not be eligible to vote.

A long-hidden clause in the companies ordinance was unearthed by acting HKCA chairman John Cribbin, who has declared that none of the 421 new members can take part in today's elections for president and chairman.

In a letter circulated to members, Cribbin said 21 days notice was required before new members could vote. The HKCA had originally stated that anyone who joined before May 22 (last Friday) would be eligible. Cribbin apologised for the last-minute clarification and misleading information on the official website.

'John looked into the constitution again and discovered there was a 21-day notice for new members to be recognised. So none of those who joined last Friday are eligible,' HKCA treasurer Dinesh Tandon confirmed yesterday.

But Saleem, who is up against incumbent Terry Smith for the presidency, refused to be disheartened by the turnaround which sees him and Murshed - challenging chairman Darren Tucker - lose 230 votes.

'This is the third time they have changed things,' Saleem said. 'First they said the deadline for new members was May 27. Then they brought it forward to May 22 and now they say you require a 21-day notice. It doesn't matter to us, as we are prepared.

'They should have been familiar with the procedure right from the outset, instead of sending conflicting and misleading messages. We understand the 21-day notice as this is a requirement under the companies ordinance, but this should have been done from the start,' Saleem added.

The 421 new members who joined last Friday had been split between the Hong Kong Cricket Club, which backs incumbents Smith and Tucker, and challengers Saleem (Pakistan Association) and Murshed (Little Sai Wan).

The HKCC had 161 new members, while the challengers had 230. An additional 30 members were backed by long-standing Indian businessman Papu Butani, but it is not known where their allegiance lay.

Three days after enrolling their new members, the HKCC on Monday turned around and withdrew these members from voting at the AGM. No one from the HKCC was available for comment as to why.

'Now we know why they didn't allow them to vote. They knew about Cribbin's decision beforehand,' said an Independent member, who wished to remain anonymous. 'They are trying every way to stop control of the HKCA falling into other hands.'

But Saleem was optimistic the joint challenge would still find a majority from the 500 original members who remain eligible to vote.

'We are in a good position despite all these changes. Our new members were drafted only after we found out that HKCC and others were bringing in 190-odd new members.

'We are exercising our democratic rights by running for office and I'm confident we will win,' he added.

Point of order

Days notice necessary before new members are recognised, according to the companies ordinance: 21