Some politicians are trying to damage University of Hong Kong's reputation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 September, 2015, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 September, 2015, 5:05pm

In recent months, the process of the appointment of the pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong has become complicated by party politics.

The deans of the 10 faculties of HKU released a joint statement after the storming of the HKU council meeting on July 28. It said that academic freedom and institutional autonomy, guaranteed by the Basic Law, are the bedrock of higher education. It called on all parties within and outside the university to respect these principles. The deans said they would not condone any uncivil activity that sought to disrupt the university's normal operations and urged all parties to put the interests of HKU first while seeking a consensus. Ironically, such a sensible statement, in the form of a motion put forward at the recent extraordinary general meeting HKU convocation, was heavily defeated.

Instead, other motions, to set a time limit and other restrictions on the decision-making of the university council or enact structural changes to the governance of HKU, were carried with large majorities.

A rumour has been widely circulated that the chief executive has interfered in the workings of the council on this matter. However, the evidence to back up such a claim has been flimsy.

Our group has been accused of being a tool of the establishment, but nothing could be furthest from the truth. We are just a small group of senior alumni with no political agenda, genuinely concerned about efforts by politicians to damage HKU's reputation, because they have their own agenda.

On the other hand, the people behind the motions that were carried have links to major political organisations in Hong Kong, such as the Civic Party.

What we saw with the handling of proxy votes was a large-scale mobilisation of resources that you would normally associate with a major political campaign. Are these groups using the dispute over the appointment of the pro-vice-chancellor as a dress rehearsal for the district council elections this year and Legco in 2016?

If so, we object to HKU being used in this way by the anti-establishment movement.

We call on all parties to simply look at the facts. They should act in a rational manner and stop putting undue pressure on the university, including council members and students. We do not support a precipitous change in the way the university is governed.

Lawrence Pang, on behalf of "Support the Declaration of the 10 Deans" Alumni Group