Trade body defends its new chief executive

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am


The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce defended the appointment of its new chief executive yesterday after critics said the recruitment process was hasty and had not been open.

Its general committee stressed it had approved the appointment of Shirley Yuen as CEO at a formal meeting after she was recommended by the chairman's committee, the chamber said in a communique.

The chamber's chairman, Anthony Wu Ting-yuk, said: 'The appointment ... is based on her ability and experience.'

Yuen formerly worked for the government as deputy secretary of the Transport and Housing Bureau.

She was administrative assistant to then financial secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen from 2003 to 2006. Wu is close to Tang

Several executives have complained that the process was done quickly and without open recruitment. Two immediate predecessors, Dr Eden Woon Yi-teng and Alex Fong Chi-wai, each went through an open recruitment, some members of the general committee said.

The chamber's general committee convened a special meeting yesterday to discuss the controversy, sources said. Member James Tien Pei-chun challenged Yuen's being appointed without an open recruitment exercise when the matter was raised at a meeting of the general committee on August 2. He said he was in the minority that questioned the arrangement.

'I'm concerned about governance at the current chamber leadership,' Tien said at the meeting. 'It is standard practice for major statutory bodies to hire their top executives through open recruitment. The General Chamber of Commerce is an influential business organisation. I see no point why the chamber did not conduct such an exercise in hunting the chief executive.'

Yuen was interviewed by some members of the chairman's committee, who later unanimously agreed to recommend her to the general committee. An official meeting was held on August 2, when the appointment was approved by a majority, the chamber said.

Fong announced on July 7 that he would step down after a five-year stint as chief executive.

Former chairman Dr Lily Chiang Lai-lei was forced to step down in January 2008 after eights months. She was then charged by the ICAC with conspiracy to defraud related to share dealings.