Baptist University remains non-committal about partnering the government to run a Chinese medicine hospital as it vows to continue with its fight to build its own teaching hospital on a site next to its campus.
Andy Lee Shiu-chuen, administration vice-president of the university, said that a plan to build a Chinese medicine hospital in Tseung Kwan O - suggested in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's policy address - was not yet a solid proposal.
His remark was a slap in the face for the Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man, who said last week that the government would invite local universities that offer Chinese medicine courses to discuss how they could participate in the proposed hospital.
"The [chief executive's] policy address is a concept," Lee said. "We would not go into too much detail at this stage because a concept is a concept… [Leung] just mentioned something that may or may not materialise into a proposal - not to mention a funding proposal."
Lee, in charge of the Kowloon Tong university's plan for a 200-bed teaching hospital, also rejected the idea of a joint-venture hospital on the mainland.
"We haven't come to that stage," he said. "It would be too early to say that we'll seek another site. Definitely [the adjacent] site is the most suitable for the hospital."
The university has been fighting for the former Institute of Vocational Education site, known as the Lee Wai Lee campus, to build a self-financed Chinese medicine teaching hospital, student accommodation and a teaching building.
It has been allocated the 0.64-hectare northern edge of the campus in Renfrew Road for the latter two projects, but the future of the remaining 0.88-hectare plot remains in doubt.
The government earlier said it planned to rezone the plot from government, institution or community use to residential, but withheld it from this year's land sale list last month while suggesting it could be used for a special-needs education school. But the rezoning application remains on the table of the Town Planning Board, which will meet behind closed doors today to discuss whether to approve the change.
Lee said the teaching hospital proposal would benefit the university as its Chinese-medicine students would no longer have to go to the mainland for a year's internship as they now do.
"It's good for Hong Kong, its education and it will ultimately make [the university] more competitive," he said, adding that the hospital would be open to internships by Chinese medicine students at the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University.
Asked if Baptist University would give up its hospital plan to make way for the proposed special-needs school, Lee said the question was "comparing apples with oranges".
"We've got a concrete plan for developing the whole site [but] at the moment, the use of part of the site for special education is a concept," he said. "If we compare the timing, our plan can be implemented almost right away ... We aren't talking about two concrete plans and we're fighting for our own plan. They are different."