University alumnus drops bilingual teaching lawsuit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 September, 2011, 12:00am


An alumnus who legally challenged Chinese University's decision to teach more courses in English dropped his case in the city's top court yesterday two hours into what was due to be a two-day hearing.

Former politics student Li Yiu-kee (pictured) withdrew his case yesterday morning after Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li briefly adjourned the Court of Final Appeal hearing.

Li explained his sudden withdrawal by saying he had made his point. He had achieved his objective of alerting the university to the importance of Chinese, he said.

But he admitted that his legal case had run out of fresh arguments.

Li lost his case in the Court of First Instance in 2009 and in the Court of Appeal in 2010. In December last year, he obtained leave to take the case to the Court of Final Appeal.

The dispute centred on the university's 2007 decision to make both English and Chinese official languages of instruction - deviating from a policy of Chinese as the dominant language.

Until then, English had been used to teach a few courses, and many research materials were in English.

Li's lawyer, Denis Chang SC, argued that the intent of the university's founding ordinance was to make Chinese the principal language of instruction. The preamble of the ordinance mandated Chinese as the main language.

He continued to argue yesterday that the word 'Chinese' in its official name gave the university an 'aspirational' role to provide Chinese language education.

But the presiding judges questioned the strength of such arguments, casting doubt on whether the school had a legal duty to use Chinese as the chief language.