YU Pun-hoi pledged to do his level best to help in the operation of South Sea Development Co if need be, despite his resignation from his chairmanship and directorship. 'He said he would try his best to help us whenever we needed a hand,' said director Francis Lam Bing-kwan. 'We need his help in the transition when new people take over. Many of our projects have been handled by him. He'll sort out those things which he started but hasn't completed. 'For instance, in our mainland ventures I think he'll [still] need to participate to a certain extent because relationships are important for doing business in China. Those things need to be done by him,' he said. Mr Yu resigned as chairman and director of the property investment and development group and of Ming Pao Enterprise Corp on Thursday amid strong criticism by the stock exchange and the public of his concealment of 1979 criminal records. On the same day, he said he would continue to contribute to the development of the two companies as a majority shareholder but did not explain how he would do that. Mr Lam yesterday said Mr Yu was unlikely to assume any position, such as a consultant, in the company. 'We've expressed our will [for him to hold a position at the company] but he's said bluntly that he will not like to be involved.' The group is considering a number of candidates, who are corporate directors, for the chairmanship. Mr Lam would not comment on whether they were existing directors at the company. The group regretted Mr Yu's resignation given that he was an able and energetic leader, he added. 'He felt he had to resign. This is an act showing a sense of responsibility.' Mr Lam said Mr Yu had already proposed to resign on Monday last week when his criminal record was made public. 'At that time, he told us [the board of directors] he was resigning. But we asked him to stay because we thought it would not be fair to shareholders if he resigned right away,' Mr Lam said. The market yesterday, as expected, buzzed with rumours that several China-backed Hong Kong companies were negotiating to buy Mr Yu's shares in Ming Pao. Rumour was that he would sell his shares in the newspaper publishing group at a premium of 15 to 20 per cent to yesterday's closing price. Mr Yu could not be reached for comment yesterday. His secretary said he had left the territory yesterday morning and would not return until next week. Executives at Ming Pao could not be contacted.