Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying tried to block the appointment of outspoken academic Professor Johannes Chan as executive vice president of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Apple Daily reported Thursday.
The report was based on an article by former Ming Pao Daily chief editor Kevin Lau on Tuesday in which he claimed that a “very senior” government official had telephoned HKU council members and asked them not to proceed with Chan’s appointment.
The move was punishment for HKU’s support for last year’s democracy protests, the article said, without naming the official.
Apple Daily cited legislator Dennis Kwok of the pro-democracy Civic Party and some legal sources in concluding that the call came from Leung’s office.
The Chief Executive Office has not commented on the report.
Two of the 21 HKU council members denied receiving any such call, according to Apple Daily.
Meanwhile, the student union said in a statement that the fact Chan’s long-pending appointment has yet to be confirmed, suggests a deliberate attempt to derail it.
The union said it will launch a signature campaign among students and teachers to force the council to disclose deliberations on Chan’s case.
The revelations followed criticism by pro-Beijing newspapers Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao about the quality of HKU’s legal research when Chan was dean of the law faculty.
Lau described the move against Chan as “unprecedented” and said there might be other targets, including Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai.
Tai, who was a key figure in the 79-day street protests, is an associate professor in the HKU law faculty.
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