My Take

Students should leave Hong Kong University affairs to its council

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 July, 2015, 1:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 July, 2015, 1:05am

The generals fired the first salvos. The foot soldiers moved in on Tuesday night. Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and Alan Leong Kah-kit were among pan-democratic leaders who joined a signature campaign against the delayed appointment of former law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong.

On Tuesday night, student protesters stormed a meeting of the university's governing council on the matter. Chaos followed; one professor - Lo Chung-mau - was sent to hospital.

The row yesterday wasn't about whether Chan was fit for the job, or whether the administration of Leung Chun-ying was trying to manipulate the outcome through council member Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, a former education minister. It was over whether the unfortunate don was hurt by protesters or feigned his injury.

A storm in a teacup over a politically neutral post - with such exciting duties as budgeting research and hiring academic staff - has turned into a farce.

Once you have the rival pan-democratic and leftist camps locking horns, facts and other relevant issues are out the window. It's now a shouting match. The pan-dems and the students want Chan in and Li out. The leftists such as Beijing mouthpieces Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao want it the other way. Some students and university staff are planning a vote of no confidence in Li. Both sides accuse the other of interference.

Such are the students who hounded their former vice-chancellor Tsui Lap-chee until he left without seeking another term because of his oversight over security arrangements during a state leader's visit to campus.

Interesting priorities: they had no qualms getting rid of one of the world's great geneticists, but fight over a relatively minor appointment for a local legal scholar whose work and administrative skills are, to say the least, not universally admired.

Let me make a novel suggestion. Have a look at the council members' list. Li notwithstanding, you have members who are student leaders and staff reps as well as independent professors, a top journalist and business figures who may be from the establishment but are hardly pro-Leung.

Let them sort it out. It's their job, not yours.