HKU chief's selection sparks protest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 12:00am
 

A group of University of Hong Kong students yesterday protested over the way the university's new vice-chancellor was appointed and called for the process to be delayed.


Professor Tsui Lap-chee was appointed by the university council yesterday and met more than 200 students and 300 university staff during two meetings.


More than 20 students, mainly from the student union, displayed a banner denouncing what they said was a 'black-box' appointment that lacked transparency.


Acting student union president Biby Ngai Wing-yin said the university had not provided enough avenues for students to take part in the selection of the vice-chancellor.


'It seems that Professor Tsui does not have a deep understanding of the university so far and it's better to delay his appointment,' she said.


Ms Ngai claimed Professor Tsui had not made a firm pledge to defend academic freedom or a firm promise to resist interference from the Government.


Professor Tsui said yesterday that he would defend academic freedom 'to the end'.


Ms Ngai said 'he just made some vague promise'.


Student Chong Yiu-kwong, studying for a law master's degree in human rights, said he was disappointed with Professor Tsui's reply to his question about how to handle incidents similar to the Robert Chung affair.


Former university vice-chancellor Professor Cheng Yiu-chung resigned after it was alleged he tried to stop Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu's research group at the university conducting polls on the popularity of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.


Mr Chong said: 'He [Professor Tsui] said he would contact the staff concerned directly. I think it will induce unnecessary pressure on the staff and he's not vigilant enough on the issue of academic freedom.'


But Professor Tsui said that he had meant that he would make direct inquiries on such incidents.


Dr Chung asked Professor Tsui his stance on accepting political appointments.


'He did not give a clear-cut answer and added that he would make an in-depth consideration,' Dr Chung said.


'I'm satisfied with what he said because it may not be appropriate to give a black-and-white answer.'


The university's Academic Staff Association chairman, Dr Chan Che-wai, said he hoped Professor Tsui would adopt a liberal style of governance.


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