Benny Tai is among Hong Kong’s public intellectuals, and fans of his spirited defence of free speech are legion
I refer to the recent column by Yonden Lhatoo (“Benny Tai’s mob lynching and the age of intolerance in Hong Kong”, April 7).
In order to belittle Professor Tai’s views on academic freedom and self-determination, your columnist casts a slur on all academics with two throwaway rhetorical questions: “ … does this guy do any teaching at all? How much free time do these academics have?”
Speaking from my own experience, the answer to his second question is “not much”.
As for his first, I would be more than happy to invite him to see what we do, that is: teaching, creating and managing grants and research projects, writing and setting papers and exams, reading drafts, grading papers and exams, going to university meetings, planning, writing, revising and editing journal articles and academic books, external advising/examining, working with and advising both undergraduate and postgraduate students in dedicated office hours, developing research collaborations with other universities, sitting on public and professional committees, mentoring fresh colleagues – I could go on.
We do these things cheerfully and with quiet, unassuming professionalism.
Lastly, Professor Tai is a public intellectual figure in this community, and denigrating his work and that of academics generally will not make the slightest difference to those who admire his spirited defence of freedom of ideas and speech in this city.
Mike Ingham, Tuen Mun