Sunday, 21 September 2014

THE LENGTHS SOME COMMITTEES WILL GO TO..... ( An article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

Every club has members others would like to see the back of......that's life. Waiting for them to resign or to let their membership to lapse may take ages. Expulsions require letters of worthy complaint ,  evidence of serious misconduct and a proper and fair disciplinary process , which meets the requirements of both the Constitution and rules of natural justice. How much nicer would it be if there was an easier , sweeter and more clinical way of purging the membership of its undesirable elements.
Well there is.....but this ruthless new way requires committees to have unfettered power to determine which members can renew their membership and which members can't. An amendment to the club's Constitution therefore becomes necessary , one which effectively puts all members on renewable one year contracts, putting them at the mercy of the committee's approval and discretion. By giving themselves the power to accept or reject renewal applications for membership , the committee are now in a position to sling out members without any comeback whatsoever. No need to establish wrongdoing. No need to engage in messy protracted disciplinary processes. No hearings required. No appeals to consider. No explanations to be given. No accountability.  No risk of any subsequent litigation. The perfect solution to an age old problem : members without rights. 
Take this proposal to amend a club's Constitution I came across a few years ago : " The committee can refuse to allow a member his or her annual subscription thereby terminating membership and its privileges.....and should the committee withdraw membership and its privileges from a member , either after a specified time or summarily , there is no right of appeal ". This unfettered power was very frightening in that any member who risked upsetting the committee had his or her card clearly marked. Not surprisingly , members at risk were those whose faces didn't fit :  dissenters , whistle-blowers , outspoken critics , and thorns in the committee's side. Thankfully , common sense prevailed at the AGM and the proposal was thrown out.
To allow a tiny minority of members to be in a position to exercise such power and control over who is to stay and who is to go ,  opens the door to the inevitable abuse of power. The Human Condition will always reign supreme.Therefore, clubs need to be aware that in any decent form of government ,  checks and counter-balances need to be built into the Constitution to safeguard the rights of those at risk.  So unless private bridge club members are given constitutional rights to safeguard their membership, then unjust terminations based on personal vendettas , whims and personality conflicts will become the norm. 

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