JIMMY McGregor has pulled off another sweet victory. His appointment to the Executive Council by Governor Chris Patten this week fulfils a long-held ambition for the 71-year-old Scot. Back in September 1991, when he was basking in the joy of beating Paul Cheng Ming-fun to represent the General Chamber of Commerce functional constituency for a second term in the Legislative Council, he revealed, in an interview with the Post, his ambition to witness the transfer of sovereignty from the perch of Legco and, hopefully, Exco. While he has failed to fulfil the first part of his ambition, having decided not to run in last month's election, the Governor has granted him the second part of his wish. Chris Patten's decision should not come as a surprise. As a Hong Kong belonger who has spent 40 years in public service, McGregor is eminently qualified to offer wise counsel to anyone looking after the interests of the territory. His appointment to Exco is clearly meant as a reward for his staunch support of the Governor's moves to give more democracy to Hong Kong. Had Sir David Wilson (now Lord Wilson) remained as governor, it is unlikely McGregor would have achieved his ambition; then he was sometimes seen by officials as too much of a trouble-maker. It wasn't always so. McGregor was once very close to the business establishment. He served in the then Commerce and Industry Department for 22 years, before joining the General Chamber of Commerce in 1975 as director, a post he held for 13 years. Yet, because of his democratic inclinations, the business establishment turned against him. When he ran to represent the chamber in Legco in 1988, the big hongs chose to give their blessing to his opponent, Veronica Ng Siu-ching. MrGregor won anyway. What followed was a tug of war between him and the chamber's ruling body. In 1990, he furthered his campaign for democracy by teaming up with fellow legislator Dr Leong Che-hung and other liberal businessmen and professionals to launch the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation. His struggle with big business culminated in another high-profile campaign by the big hongs who backed Paul Cheng to run against him in 1991. Against great odds, McGregor won with the support of the chamber's ordinary members. Soon after Prime Minister John Major decided to send Patten to Hong Kong, McGregor sponsored a motion debate to call on Legco to reaffirm its support for the so-called 'Omelco consensus' agreed by members of the Executive and Legislative Council in 1989, which called for more directly elected seats on Legco. Although the motion was defeated by a narrow margin, he then spearheaded another campaign for the adoption of the 'single-seat, single vote' system for the 1995 elections . . . and succeeded. In October 1992, when rival Legco factions were vacillating on how to respond to Patten's plan to expand Legco's franchise, it was McGregor who forced the council to give a clear mandate to the Governor by sponsoring another motion debate. The Post opined at the time: 'McGregor is a cunning tactician. Introducing the motion debate in advance of the Governor's visit to Beijing next week forces those less fully committed to democracy to make a choice they may have wanted to put off until they see which way the political winds are blowing.' The motion was carried. McGregor had to resign his directorship of the Hong Kong Chinese Bank, which was 50 per cent owned by the China-backed China Resources. He also lost his seat on the chamber's general committee last year. McGregor has never hidden his closeness to Patten. 'Great minds think alike' was how he described his relationship. Now that these two 'great minds' can formally discuss business in Exco, it is perhaps a disappointment that whatever synergy they produce will not be for public consumption.