HKIEd president-in-waiting says he will not give up Exco post

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2007, 12:00am

The man likely to lead the Hong Kong Institute of Education said he would not resign his post as executive councillor if he was appointed president.

Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said he saw no conflict of interest between the two roles.

'Exco does not reflect only the government's views,' Professor Cheung said after meeting staff and students at the institute yesterday. 'Exco members come from different sectors of society and help the government form balanced policies.'

They were his first public comments on the issue since he emerged as the only candidate for the position on Wednesday.

Professor Cheung said he was aware that joining the institute at this time would be challenging. He said he would need to review his public service commitments and may need to put aside some of his duties.

'But I see my Exco appointment and also chairmanship of the Consumer Council as being very important. I don't think continuing those commitments would take too much time. I would have to be careful in terms of my time management.'

He said he had not discussed the job with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen or any other government officials, including other Exco members.

The most urgent task would be to secure university title for the institute, he said, adding that support would be needed from the government and other organisations.

He said his lack of experience in teacher training would not affect his ability to do the job.

'As an academic, there are similarities between myself and academics here, regardless of which subject area we focus on.'

Staff and students said they would like to know his position on the issue of a possible merger and how he would divide his time between his role at the institute and his various public service commitments.

Student union president Jane Leung Chi-yan said there was time for only five questions during their meeting. Ms Leung quoted Professor Cheung as saying there was no need for the institute to merge with another tertiary institute and that it had potential to develop independently.

Some students were concerned that Professor Cheung was not an education specialist and had no experience as a senior administrator in a university-level institution.

Acting president Lee Wing-on said he would vote for Professor Cheung when the council met to discuss the appointment on Thursday. 'He is terrific,' Professor Lee said. 'He has thought very thoroughly about issues at the institute.'

Acting academic vice-president Kerry Kennedy said Professor Cheung was an 'articulate and sophisticated academic with very strong analytical skills'.

'He understands the nature of the job and the challenges,' he said.

Professor Cheung's lack of experience in teacher training would not be a major concern, since HKIEd was home to more than 260 educators. 'We want someone to set the direction,' Professor Kennedy said.

Trevor Bond, head of the department of educational psychology, counselling and learning needs, said he was more optimistic about the future of HKIEd after attending the forum. 'We've always remained hopeful. But when someone comes along who is well informed, and who touches the aspirations of people at the HKIEd, I am optimistic.'

Millie Yung Chan May-yee, a lecturer from the department of mathematics, science and social sciences technology, said Professor Cheung had a good balance of skills.

She worried, however, that he might have too much on his plate and suggested he withdraw from other positions if appointed.

'Being a president is a very tedious job,' she said. 'Time management is crucial.'