Macau academic sacked for 'imposing his political beliefs on students'

Activist told Macau University will not renew contract after suspension for 'imposing views'. He is second academic in the city to be ousted

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 5:53am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 1:17pm

A University of Macau academic suspended for "imposing his political beliefs" on students will not have his contract renewed and will leave his post at the end of the month.

Dr Bill Chou Kwok-ping, a political scientist who was last month elected vice-president of Macau's biggest pro-democracy group, said the university had not stated a reason for the decision.

"It is related to my social activism, I believe. It is for political reasons and not because of my performance," Chou said. "My teaching performance is improving. I was even promoted in 2011 to associate professor."

The university did not reply yesterday to inquiries on the reasons for the decision.

Chou is the second Macau academic to lose his job after intervening in political debates in as many months, stirring concerns about academic freedom in the former Portuguese colony.

Chou has joined a series of protests since 2012, advocating press freedom and universal suffrage and criticising government policies to the media. He was elected vice-president of the New Macau Association in June.

Although he knew his activism could harm his career, Chou said he only realised his job might be at risk late last year. The university opened disciplinary proceedings in November over accusations he imposed his views on students. Chou said he was also accused of discriminating against students and disobeying his superiors.

The disciplinary process ended with Chou being suspended without pay for 24 days, with the first half of the suspension due to run from Wednesday this week to August 31.

The university said last month that it would "not start any disciplinary procedure against any member of the university because of his or her political views in society". But it might do so upon receiving complaints.

Chou said he was not aware of any complaints. "Of course, all professors might be criticised by students," he said. "But in the two courses I taught in the first semester, I got good ratings in students' evaluations."

Chou has complained to Macau's Labour Affairs Bureau over the university's disciplinary procedures. And he plans to begin legal action after judicial holidays end on August 31.

Macau's Labour laws state that a worker should not be deprived of any right or discriminated against on the grounds of political or ideological beliefs.

Chou's sacking follows the dismissal of University of Saint Joseph lecturer Eric Sautede, whose last day of work was July 11. He was told he was sacked because of his intervention in political debates.