New college chief's declaration of independence

My students can join Occupy Central, says CPCC member named business school's head

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 5:22am

The new president of a private business college said yesterday that it was up to his students to decide whether or not to take part in Occupy Central.

Professor Simon Ho Shun-man, also a member of Henan province's Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee, was named the next head of Hang Seng Management College, starting in March - just four months before Occupy Central aims to shut down the city's commercial heart if the government has not yet come up with democratic reform proposals that meet international standards.

Speaking at a press conference to announce his appointment, Ho vowed to ensure the school's academic freedom and independence.

"As a university president, the most important thing to do is to allow space [for discussion]. Our students are adults - give them freedom, let them judge and then they can make their own choice," he said.

If students were arrested during the protest, he would "do my best to assist them".

He added: "We would hope that our students can join social movements peacefully."

Asked if he would resign from his position as a CPPCC member to convince staff and students he had no political bias, he said he "had not considered the possibility of resignation" as "there's no conflict of interest".

"I have no political inclinations," he said. "As a CPPCC member in a province, I won't discuss [with other members] any nationwide or political issues. I only attend a meeting once a year, and the issues I discuss are related to education, the environment and culture."

He explained that he was given the post because he used to be an honorary professor at Henan University and donated money to its students to help fund research.

"I'm an independent scholar. Whenever I voice my comments, I offer my views independently," he added.

Ho is currently the vice-rector (academic affairs) at the University of Macau. He served as dean of the school of business at Baptist University from 2004 to 2009, and the director of the school of accountancy from 1995 to 2002 at Chinese University.

Ho is appointed to replace the institution's former president Chui Hong-sheung, who resigned in December last year.