Internal power tussle in SME Association of Malaysia sees president booted

KUALA LUMPUR: The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Association of Malaysia is embroiled in an internal tussle where an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) was called to unseat the president and revoke his membership.

This was despite its president, Ding Hong Sing, declaring the EGM “invalid and unlawful” after its secretary-general, Chin Chee Seong, informed the council members about the meeting in early April.

The stage was set at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort on Tuesday (April 23), where 112 registered members and 35 proxy voters attended, bringing the voting pool to 147 members.

Despite the agenda being to remove him, Ding attended the EGM, voiced his concerns about its validity, and promptly left after speaking to the media.

"I clarified to the members that today's meeting was invalid and against regulations.

"According to the procedures, we should have had a meeting with the council before convening this extraordinary meeting.

"I am already stepping down, why go through with this (EGM)?" he said, referring to his upcoming departure from his leadership position within the association in May.

Ding claims that the EGM involved personal attacks and "damaged the reputation" of the association and his own.

"The fact that the association's disciplinary committee requested my presence at a hearing just one hour before the EGM shows it was made in the interests of a certain party.

"Just because of an incomplete internal review previously, I refused to sign the letter calling for the annual general assembly (AGM), only to discover that someone was playing games behind the scenes.

"In reality, we could have resolved this matter internally by discussing it at a regular meeting, avoiding the need for an EGM," he said.

Ding also questioned the media's exclusion from the EGM, which was held behind closed doors, saying there should be transparency.

He said he would lodge a police report regarding the EGM and alert the Registrar of Societies (ROS) for investigation.

When asked, Ding said if the EGM passed the motion to oust him, he would consult with the association's legal advisors to determine his next course of action.

At the EGM, 128 voted in favour of the motion to remove Ding, six voted against, and 12 abstained.

Additional motions approved during the EGM included scheduling the AGM for May 11, appointing five members to organise it, and dismissing the current legal advisor, Datuk Michael Wong Meng San, from the association.

In response to Ding's claim that the EGM was invalid and unlawful, Chin said it did not solely rest on him or his legal team, and even if the meeting is ultimately deemed illegal, it would not be a major issue.

Previously, Chin had said that he acted on behalf of the council, under the approval and direction of 21 council members, to convene the EGM, hence fully complying with the provisions of the association's constitution.

"I'm just the association's secretary-general, and I carry out my duties without any specific targeting of Ding.

"It's important to understand that our members are not obliged to attend or show support; each of them holds significant stature as business leaders and understands the association's operations.

"We do not influence their decisions."

He said the EGM was called to address allegations regarding Ding's conduct, where the allegations “underwent thorough examination, with evidence presented and constitutional obligations reviewed.”

However, he did not reveal what the allegations were.

When asked why the association was not facilitating the president's dignified resignation ahead of the upcoming AGM and elections next month, Chin said there were "underlying factors" at play which will be "further elaborated in due time."

Chin also commented on Ding's intention to report the matter to the authorities, saying that such matters were the association's internal affairs.

"If he is dissatisfied, he has the option to challenge the issue in court.

"It's okay to report to the ROS. He (Ding) can follow the procedure, and I'm open too. If ROS finds the EGM unlawful, then unlawful it is," he said.

Chin added that the association would next focus on its AGM slated on May 11.

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