21 October 2016
Reverend Peter Koon (left) speaks out about the HKU Council controversy (right) but remains silent about what happening to the churches in Zhejiang (center). Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily, Facebook
Reverend Peter Koon (left) speaks out about the HKU Council controversy (right) but remains silent about what happening to the churches in Zhejiang (center). Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily, Facebook

Is Anglican Church’s Reverend Koon a spokesman for Beijing?

The Reverend Peter Koon of the Hong Kong Anglican Church has struck again.

Speaking to a local Beijing mouthpiece, the highly esteemed church leader on Wednesday waded into another political issue, this time the raging controversy surrounding the appointment of a pro vice chancellor at the University of Hong Kong.

Koon told Wen Wei Po that former HKU law dean Johannes Chan is not a suitable candidate for the top university post because he has failed to take a clear stand on how to maintain political stability in Hong Kong.

“It’s so embarrassing that local media and the opposition camp blindly support Chan to be the pro vice chancellor,” Koon said. “I think the candidate for the post should be clear regarding the nation and Hong Kong stability. And I think the current candidate [Chan] seems unable as yet to achieve such a goal.”

Many church members also feel embarrassed about their leader. 

They cannot understand why Koon is very vocal about his criticism of personalities identified with the pro-democracy camp but deafeningly silent about transgressions against the Church in China.

For example, why is it that the number two in the local Anglican Church hierarchy remains silent on the Chinese government’s recent move to demolish Christian churches in Wenzhou? 

Isn’t it his duty to speak out in support of the Chinese Christians who feel they are being persecuted by the government for holding on to their religious beliefs?

Many young Anglicans feel embarrassed about the things Koon is saying in the media. They believe that the Church should fight for justice and truth, rather than follow the official line of China’s ruling Communist Party.

Since last year’s Occupy protests, Koon has been mouthing the views of Beijing and denouncing the actions of the pro-democracy activists.

While Koon has always stressed that he is speaking his personal views, which have nothing to do with the Anglican Church, the fact remains that he is playing into Beijing’s political agenda.

The central government’s Liaison Office wants highly respected people in society to voice out their support for Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities on such issues as last year’s Umbrella Movement, the political reform package, and now the HKU appointment saga.

Koon and the other local Beijing loyalists have become willing agents of the central government in countering views and actions that run counter to its interests.

That’s why Koon doesn’t see anything wrong with expressing his “personal views” on the HKU saga, although his views are helping Beijing in its bid to malign Chan and influence public opinion on the issue.

The HKU Council has yet to give the public a clear reason for postponing its appointment of a pro vice chancellor, but thanks to people like Koon, Beijing and its local minions are able to communicate to the public the real reason for the delay.

For them, Chan is not an acceptable candidate for the HKU post because of his association with last year’s Occupy campaign.

You won’t hear Beijing making this explanation. After all, there are so many Beijing loyalists in the territory as well as close allies of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying who are more than willing to tell the Hong Kong people why they think Chan should not be allowed to take the post.

The latest development in this saga is that the HKU Council has confirmed the appointment of Professor Paul Tam as the acting provost and deputy vice chancellor.

This suggests that the appointment of Chan as pro vice chancellor could face further delays as the university will take a much longer time to fill the permanent post of provost.

The Anglican Church should not waste its time getting involved in political issues or speaking on behalf of Beijing and the Hong Kong government.

Koon’s remarks about Chan and the HKU indicate that he has forgotten his priestly role of helping uphold social justice.

But since he appears to be in Beijing’s good graces, Koon should use his influence in raising the issue of churches being demolished and holy statues being destroyed in Wenzhou. 

He should speak for the persecuted Christians of China, rather than waste his precious time and considerable influence in promoting the interests of Beijing.

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EJ Insight writer

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