The choice of a new University of Hong Kong provost will probably be submitted to its governing council by the end of this month, the council’s chairman and a member say amid heated debate the unfilled post is being used as an excuse to delay another key managerial appointment. Both chairman Dr Leong Che-hung and his council colleague, Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, today dismissed allegations the deferred naming of a new pro-vice-chancellor was deliberate. Leong stressed it was reasonable to wait for the new provost to be appointed before deciding on the post of pro-vice-chancellor since the two people would have to work closely together. Echoing Leong’s views, Li said: “It is a way of showing respect to the provost. We are not asking him or her to make a decision on whether to hire Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun or not. We are only seeking [the provost’s] opinions.” He said the pro-vice-chancellor would be a deputy to the provost, so seeking the provost’s advice was a matter of courtesy. Chan, a former law dean and a liberal scholar, is said to be the HKU search committee’s recommended candidate for the pro-vice-chancellor job. Previously, the council had voted twice to name a new provost first, before deciding on the pro-vice-chancellor. Li said the council had not yet received a report on Chan’s handling of an Occupy Central-related donation. He said the university followed procedures strictly in the case and that political considerations were not at play. Last month, a group of students stormed a HKU council meeting after members voted down a motion demanding it stop delaying the appointment of a pro-vice-chancellor. Leong said the council had not yet decided if it would step up security measures at the next meeting, to be held at the end of this month. Li criticised Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and lawmakers Alan Leong Kah-kit and Kwok Ka-ki for politicising the incident, and accused them of forcing the council to appoint Chan.