A protest involving more than 300 people has led to Hong Kong Cricket Association president Shahzada Saleem stepping down as president of the Pakistan Association Club.
Saleem will continue as president of the Hong Kong governing body but his position has become shaky, raising questions as to whether he will still be at the helm when the International Cricket Council holds its prestigious annual conference in Hong Kong in June.
'It seems as if there has been a concerted attempt to get rid of Saleem before the ICC meeting,' said one observer. 'It is either that or just simply politics within the Pakistan community.'
Saleem was unavailable for comment. He is travelling on business and expected back in Hong Kong at the end of this week or early May.
Sunday's annual general meeting of the Pakistan Association was disrupted by protesters shouting for Saleem and the committee to be removed. They were apparently incensed that proper notification of the AGM hadn't been given and that nominations for elections to various positions on the committee hadn't been called for. The protesters had asked permission from the police to stage a demonstration.
'There were no proper rules followed which led to the protests,' a source said. 'Members of the Pakistan Traders Association and the public had come together to call for the ousting of the committee.'
HKCA chairman Dinesh Tandon stressed the forced resignation had no bearing on the Association.
'He is still president for all practical purposes,' Tandon said. 'We are independent and a level removed from what happens at Pakistan Association. We are a stable body.'
That seemed hardly the case on Sunday as angry protesters demanded Saleem step down. It is believed members were angry at the way the committee had carried out renovation work at the club.
'A lot of renovations were done without any tenders being called for,' said one member. 'For instance, the club's perimeter had been barbed wired. This was done without tenders being called for.'
Sources inside cricketing circles also said this could have been the first step in an attempt to grab power before the ICC annual conference on June 26-30.
Tandon yesterday revealed the HKCA would hold its AGM before the world's leading cricket administrators, including ICC president Sharad Pawar, came to Hong Kong.
'We are planning to have the AGM before June 15. All positions within the executive committee, including that of president and my own one [chairmanship], will be up for election,' Tandon said.
It is unclear what effect Saleem's removal will have on his bid to retain his post as HKCA president for another year. It was expected he would need the support of his own club to carry on for one more term.
With the leadership of the Pakistan Association left vacant, a caretaker committee comprising leading members from within Pakistani organisations in the community -such as Pakistan International Airlines and the National Bank of Pakistan- would form an interim committee and govern the club until an AGM.