Chamber spurns McGregor in poll for committee

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 April, 1994, 12:00am

JIMMY McGregor, Legislative Council representative of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, was last night humiliated by a crushing defeat in the general committee election.

He won only 543 votes in the total of about 2,000 and was almost 700 votes behind his nearest rival.

Eight candidates stood for seven seats - Mr McGregor was excluded from the general committee for the first time since 1989.

The votes for other candidates were: William Fung Kwok-lun 1,593; Hari Harilela 1,559; Daniel Koo 1,548; Paul Selway-Swift 1,583; Denis Lee Wing-kwan 1,495; Brian Stevenson 1,556; and Henry Tang Ying-yen 1,224.

Mr McGregor said afterwards that the result was ''expected'' and that the vote was ''political''.

''I have been advised by many members that there has been a determined effort to put together proxy votes to bring me down, out of the general committee, just the way Martin Barrow was brought down last year.'' Proxy votes accounted for more than 85 per cent of the total.

Mr McGregor, who has been working with the chamber for more than 40 years, said that the influential business group was heading in a more pro-China direction.

''It has been [becoming more pro-China] for a very long time. During the last few years, I think the chamber has become heavily China-oriented.'' Asked if he was worried by the change, he said: ''No, because every organisation in Hong Kong is becoming pro-China, what else can they do? They cannot be anti-China.'' Mr McGregor, a member of the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation, cited his democratic political views as a cause of the ''concerted effort'' against him.

He admitted his political views were different from many of the chamber members'.

''The position I have towards China should not be misunderstood. I am pro-China, but I have not been pro-Beijing.'' But it was known that Chinese officials had not welcomed Mr McGregor's visit to China with a chamber delegation last year because of his vocal support for Mr Patten's political reform proposal.

''I have a view. I have my own conscience, I have my own position. I put that to the membership of the chamber and the membership of the chamber have now rejected it.

''So that's a very clear picture. But they rejected it in a strange way, through perhaps eight or 10 people . . . so we have 1,700 or so companies represented in the hands of eight or 10 people.

''That's what I found a little bit odd,'' he said.

He said that he had yet to make up his mind on whether to contest the chamber's Legislative Council seat in 1995 and added that his decision would depend on what the new voting system of functional elections would be.

But both the outgoing chairman Paul Cheng Ming-fun and the new chairman William Fung said the high turnout rate showed that the election was a democratic one, with more members participating.

Mr Fung proposed that the general committee would invite Mr McGregor to sit in committee meetings to maintain a link between it and the chamber's legislator.

He said it is important that the Legco representative be kept informed of the committee's work.

But the suggestion was rejected by Mr McGregor, saying that he did not want such a charitable offer.

''Of course, I will not accept any such proposal to continue to sit in the general committee. By whose charity? Of course not!'' The new general committee chose Robert Savage and James Tien Pei-chun as first and second vice-chairmen.

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