Hong Kong University Council members who nixed former law dean Johannes Chan’s appointment as the new pro-vice-chancellor have been avoiding the media following the controversial vote.
On Thursday, after attending a National Day cocktail reception, four council members — Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, Margaret May Yee Ko Leung, Rosanna Wong Yick-ming and Martin Liao Cheung Kong — rushed to their cars without saying a word even as reporters chased them for comments on the Tuesday vote.
As Chan was believed to be sympathetic toward pro-democracy activists, it is believed that the establishment camp didn’t want him as the new pro-vice-chancellor.
Ahead of the vote, Reuters reported that vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson did not rule out the possibility of interference from Beijing in the Chan saga.
On Thursday, when asked if the HKU council members were under pressure from Beijing, Mathieson — who also attended the National Day reception — said that only the council members can answer the question.
Each council member may have his or her own reason for the voting decision, he said, but added that members should bear in mind that whatever decisions they take should be in the best interests of HKU.
HKU Students’ Union chairman Billy Fung Jing-en, who is also a member of the HKU Council, revealed to the media that the four council members mentioned above gave various reasons for their ‘no’ vote.
Among the reasons cited was that Chan does not have a doctoral degree and that there were not many search results online with regard to Chan’s research work.
Council chairman Edward Leong Che-hung, who was among the attendees at Thursday’s event, meanwhile hit out at Fung for disclosing what was discussed at the meeting.
Leong stressed the importance of confidentiality so that council members can speak freely at meetings.
The council will look into possible disciplinary action on Fung, Leong said, adding that it will also examine ways to improve the operation of the university decision-making body.
In an interview with Cable TV Wednesday evening, Arthur Li said he would not admit nor disagree with the suggestion of Fung that Li had attacked Chan over the latter’s lack of a doctoral degree.
HKU Council member Cheung Kie-chung said the council has no right to strip Fung of his membership of the body, as there are no clear guidelines on the handling of members who violate the confidentiality clause.
Cheung said he believes that Fung was left with no choice but to make a disclosure to the public, given the lack of explanation surrounding Tuesday’s vote.
– Contact us at [email protected]