EDUCATION
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HKU council controversy

Say no to politics, insists University of Hong Kong council member

Lo Chung-mau says row over key management job is hurting university and its governing body

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 August, 2015, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 11:41am

The University of Hong Kong should say no to politics as the political conflicts surrounding the appointment of a key manager have become irrational and damaged the way its governing body works, a council member said yesterday.

The comments by Professor Lo Chung-mau  came two days after the resignation of another council member, Dr Yuen Kwok-yung,  who said “a lot of outside political forces” had tried to influence the body’s decisions.

The two forces have been pressuring the university, damaging the functioning of the council
Professor Lo Chung-mau

At the centre of the row is the university’s former law dean, Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun,  who had been told he would become a pro-vice-chancellor in charge of academic staffing and resources from March this year.

But this was put on hold after pro-Beijing newspapers criticised him over his working relationship with HKU legal scholar and Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting.  On June 30, the council voted 12-6 to delay Chan’s appointment until a provost was hired. When the council met again on July 28, students forced their way in to the  venue to protest against the delay.

Professor Lo, who supported the deferral,  said he hoped politics could leave the university.

“The two forces have been pressuring the university, damaging the functioning of the council,” said the medical professor. “HKU should say no to politics.”

Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme yesterday, he also criticised the students and other members of society who opposed the deferral for using “violence” instead of expressing their views in a rational way.

Lo said he feared that if such violence could not be contained, Hong Kong might become a mainland-like society where everyone would use violence to get what they wanted.

“Will there be one day when people come to Queen Mary Hospital and beat doctors up … just because they suspect the doctors have done wrong?” Lo asked, referring to HKU’s teaching hospital in Pok Fu Lam.

“I’m very afraid this phenomenon will keep extending. Now courts seem to have such problems. There have been people daring to criticise our judges and even want to go protesting. I really don’t know if one day there will be people storming courts and occupying courts.”

Another council member, Man Cheuk-fei,  said there had been political forces in the university for a long time, citing a visit to the campus in August 2011 by then vice-premier Li Keqiang , when police limited protests by students.

He said the delay in appointing a new pro-vice-chancellor was the natural result of Chan’s involvement in an investigation over donations received by Tai.

HKU alumnus and Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit  said on RTHK’s Letter to Hong Kong that the saga was “another battle” waged by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying “against the city’s core 8values and institutions”.