The inquiry into the opinion polls controversy will report within two months and will have the power to recommend punishment, it was disclosed last night. It has not been decided whether the hearing, set up by the University of Hong Kong, will be open to the public. Yang Ti Liang, chairman of the university's council, admitted the inquiry had a limited authority in that it could only call members of the university. Speaking after a council meeting yesterday evening, Mr Yang announced the council's decision to appoint, under university statutes, three independent people to sit on the commission of inquiry to 'affirm the importance of academic freedom and institutional autonomy'. The three are chairman Mr Justice Noel Power, a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal and former acting chief justice; barrister Ronny Wong Fook-hum, SC, a former Bar Association chairman; and Pamela Chan Wong Shui, chief executive of the Consumer Council. Mr Yang said the commission would investigate the allegations made by pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu in the South China Morning Post on July 7 and in a statement to the media on July 14. Dr Chung, head of the Public Opinion Programme at the university's Journalism and Media Studies Centre, said Tung Chee-hwa told him via a third party that he wanted an end to opinion polls on Mr Tung's popularity and the Government's credibility. Dr Chung later named the third party as vice-chancellor Professor Cheng Yiu-chung. Mr Tung and Professor Cheng have denied the allegations. It was subsequently revealed that an aide to Mr Tung, Andrew Lo Cheung-on, had discussed opinion polls with Professor Cheng. Mr Yang said the commission would report to the council in writing on its findings together with recommendations, if any, for action. 'The university council recognises that there may be issues beyond the remit of the investigative panel and of the university council itself, which are matters left with the relevant authorities within the community of Hong Kong,' he said. On submission of the commission's report, the council will decide on whether any disciplinary action would be taken. Mr Yang said he hoped the commission could start work early next month. He predicted the inquiry would take three weeks and the drafting of the report would also take several weeks. Mr Lo and the Chief Executive's Office have said they will co-operate with the testimony. The council, the executive body of the university, comprises appointed and elected 'citizens of prestige', and academic persons. There are four student representatives. There were 35 people at last night's meeting. Gloria Chang Wan-ki, president of the students' union and one of the four student representatives on the council, was disappointed that a motion urging the council to require the commission to make its hearings public was defeated by a vote of 14 to 12. Among council members who attended were acting vice-chancellor Professor Ian Davies, ex-legislator and banker David Li Kwok-po, Executive Councillor Rosanna Wong Yick-ming, Cheung Kong (Holdings] deputy chairman Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, Mr Justice Henry Litton, and Cable & Wireless HKT boss Linus Cheung Wing-lam.