Incoming HKU law dean puts freedom at the heart of his plans

Incoming professor sets out liberty of expression and debate as key principles

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 4:21am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 5:53am

The incoming law dean of the University of Hong Kong has vowed to protect academic freedom, promote freedom of expression and reach decisions that will be in the city's best interests.

Professor Michael Hor Yew Meng, from Singapore, responded to queries on his stance in promoting democracy and universal suffrage, after HKU announced his appointment yesterday.

Now a law professor at the National University of Singapore, he will take over in July from Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, who has held the post since 2002.

Hor told the South China Morning Post he was "deeply honoured" by the appointment and would do all in his power to nurture the spirit of liberty passed down by HKU academics.

"I am fully conscious of the solemn duty to preserve the outstanding achievements of deans like professors Albert Chen [Hung-yee] and Johannes Chan, and to build upon these foundations to propel the HKU Faculty of Law to even greater heights," he said.

Hor specialises in criminal law and constitutional due procedure. At HKU, he already serves as adviser to the Centre for Comparative and Public Law.

"Essential to any faculty, indeed any university of any note, is the protection of the freedom of thought and conscience, of speech and expression, of assembly and association, and with it the freedom of academic endeavour," Hor said.

"In meeting the many challenges that will inevitably be faced, there will be different views and positions held in good faith.

"The key is to encourage all opinions to be aired and debated, and ultimately to reach a decision on the primary basis of what is in the best interests not of particular persons or groups or institutions, but of Hong Kong itself."

HKU vice-chancellor Professor Tsui Lap-chee described Hor as an "inspiring and passionate teacher".

Tsui said the university decided on him after two rounds of a worldwide search.

Hor read law at the National University of Singapore, followed by Bachelor of Civil Law studies at Oxford University. He also holds a Master of Laws degree from the University of Chicago.