A silent protest is being planned for Tuesday by students and faculty of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) over the rejection of Johannes Chan as pro vice chancellor by the university council.
The protesters will come dressed in black academic robe to dramatize their outrage over the council’s decision to bypass the recommendation of a search committee in a controversial Sept. 29 vote.
The council-appointed committee had endorsed the former HKU law dean for one of five pro vice chancellorships in a long-delayed nomination process.
It’s the first time in the university’s 104-year history such mass action is being undertaken, Apple Daily reports.
It comes a week after the council voted 12 to 8 to overrule the search committee’s recommendation to appoint Chan.
Council chairman Leong Che-hung said the decision was made in the “best and long-term interests” of HKU.
But Billy Fung, the student representative to the council, later cited various reasons including that Chan does not have a doctoral degree.
Law professor Lusina Ho and three other colleagues are organizing the protest which will start at noon with a march from the Centennial Campus to Sun Yat-sen Place.
The protest is aimed at highlighting the fight for academic freedom against external interference after accusations the decision on Chan was politically motivated.
HKU political scientist Joseph Chan, a protest co-organizer, said the wearing of black academic gown by protesters is meant to express “solemn” outrage at the council’s “inconceivable decision”.
Fung, president of the HKU Student Union, called an assembly Monday night to drum up support for the protest.
He said Leong, who is due to step down next month when his term expires, might be succeeded by Arthur Li who was appointed to the council in March by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Meanwhile, the student union will work with the HKU Public Opinion Program on a planned non-binding referendum on suitable candidates.
Terry Au, HKU chair professor of psychology and a member of the search committee, said it is debatable whether Chan should be disqualified for not having a doctoral degree.
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