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HKU council controversy

‘Stupidity has no cure,’ HKU council chair Arthur Li says in war of words with staff representative over late report

Academic Staff Association head William Cheung calls for Li to step down as email argument rages on

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 3:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 10:56pm

The University of Hong Kong’s controversial governing council chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung has been embroiled in a bitter war of words with the institution’s staff representative, with Li lamenting that “stupidity has no cure”.

In an email to the council head on Tuesday, William Cheung Sing-wai, chairman of the university’s Academic Staff Association, criticised Li for failing to provide a new strategic direction, which Li had promised to produce within six months after he took over in January last year, before changing the deadline to December.

I must admit that I am unable to instil any intelligence or rationality to those who are biased or blinkered.
Arthur Li, HKU governing council chair

“It is now approaching the end of January, but there is still no sign of that report,” Cheung said. “If your own vocabulary were to be used to describe you, you would have to call yourself a liar for not keeping your promises.

“Your lack of interest in this important task to the university and the public is clearly shown.”

In his email, Cheung urged Li to step down from his post on the council.

In a reply sent on the same day, Li said: “I must admit that I am unable to instil any intelligence or rationality to those who are biased or blinkered. After all, stupidity has no cure.”

Cheung then fired back on Wednesday, again urging Li to resign. Cheung said it was he who had been trying to instil intelligence and rationality in Li, who was the biased one.

Known for his high-handed and unapologetic manner, Li’s appointment to the council chairmanship was vehemently opposed by many of the university’s students, staff and alumni.

The appointment of the former education minister came after the council, dominated by government-appointed members, controversially voted down the promotion of liberal law professor Johannes Chan Man-mun to a key managerial position.

The move was widely deemed to be a punishment for Chan’s close ties with his colleague Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who was one of the organisers of the Occupy movement in 2014.

Li, at the time a council member, was later revealed in a leaked audio recording of the meeting to have strongly opposed Chan’s promotion.

A combative figure, Li has also been known for describing the students who opposed him as being “poisoned by drugs”.