PTU News Reporter
Recently Hong Kong society is very much concerned with the appointment of Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Kevin Lau, former Ming Pao editor-in-chief, even disclosed in February that some influential government individuals called the council members of HKU to request those council members to vote down the appointment of Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun as Pro-Vice-Chancellor. The officials of the central government’s liaison office were later involved in the process. Lau further described that the academic freedom of HKU is under the biggest threat that has never been confronted with before.
HKU Council Even Ignores the Vice-Chancellor
In May of last year, HKU decided to recruit 5 pro-vice-chancellors and the Council of HKU already appointed 4 pro-vice-chancellors in November of last year and February of this year respectively. Only the appointment of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (academic staffing and resources) was delayed. Lau revealed that the university’s search committee had unanimously supported the former Law Faculty Dean Professor Johannes Chan as the only candidate for this post, but the government officials requested the council members of HKU not to appoint Chan. This not only smashed the university self-governance, but also destroyed the established procedures and precedents of making personnel appointment of the university.
In June, the HKU Council even explained that the appointment of Pro-Vice-Chancellor will be put on agenda only until a new Provost is appointed, which we think is absurd in the extreme. We see it is groundless to further postpone the appointment of Pro-Vice-Chancellor when the other 4 have already been appointed, only because we need to wait for a new Provost whom nobody knows and whose appointment date is unknown. More sarcastic is that even Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson clearly said that he would like to appoint the pro-vice-chancellor as early as possible, but the HKU Council ignored the Vice-Chancellor.
Extraordinary General Meeting of Convocation Will Be Held on 1 Sept
Some HKU alumni established a HKU Alumni Concern Group?on 7 July, where Ip Kin-yuen is the Convenor. The Concern Group wants to safeguard HKU autonomy. Alumni Concern Group handed over a petition letter to Leong Che-hung, HKU Council Chairman to urge to start processing the appointment immediately and review its structure to rid the governance body of political influences. Unfortunately, the Council decided not to revise their absurd decision of waiting for a new Provost, which was the most disappointing for all teaching staffs, alumni and the whole society.
Moreover, the Concern Group further submitted requisitions in the Convocation, including:
– The University should confirm the recommendation made by the search committee for the appointment of pro-vice-chancellor (academic staffing and resources) within 30 days in accordance with established procedures and precedents, otherwise the Council should provide written reasons and justifications;
– The Chief Executive shall not be the Chancellor and chief officer of the University or that his role should only be ceremonial;
– The legitimacy of the Chairman of the Council of HKU should be enhanced.
The Extraordinary General Meeting of the Convocation will be held on 1 September, at 7pm in the HKU campus. We invite all HKU teaching staffs and alumni to attend the meeting and support their requisitions. Our Union fully supports the Concern Group and we also appeal our members to support their action.
Some Individuals Still Support HKU Council
The voice of the pro-establishment camp against the appointment of Prof Johannes Chan as Pro-Vice-Chancellor was becoming more evident from time to time. Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, a HKU council member appointed by CY Leung, as well as the state-run People Daily have also advocated that Chan should give up his candidacy as Pro-Vice-Chancellor. Moreover, another group of alumni was organized to object to the requisitions of the Concern Group. Lawrence Pang Wang-kee, spokesman of the group, said that they also agreed that the appointment of Pro-Vice-Chancellor should be made as soon as possible, and believed that the HKU Council could make the best decision when the Pro-Vice-Chancellor should be appointed. Ip, however, doubted whether the Council could still act sensibly after a series of absurd decisions made by the Council; the Council should right the wrong immediately.
We are now confronted with a very serious incident, where our academic freedom and university independence are being challenged. We hope that our members would be attentive to the development of this incident and safeguard our core values together.
Appeal for Proxy Forms
If you are HKU alumnus/alumna (holding HKU degree, diploma, or certificate, such as BEd, MEd, PGCE, etc.) or teaching staff (professor, lecturer, or tutor, of any ranks), and you support the motions of the Concern Group but unable to attend the EGM in person, please fill in the proxy form, and post it to “Room 919, Legislative Council Complex, Central, Hong Kong” with remark “HKU Alumni Concern Group c/o Office of Hon. IP Kin-yuen” by 26th August. You also may obtain and submit your proxy form in Mong Kok or Causeway Bay service centre of the PTU. All proxy forms received by the PTU will be forwarded to the Concern Group, and no record will be made.