As Dr. Edward Leong Che-hung approaches the end of his term as chairman of the governing council of the University of Hong Kong, Commercial Radio Hong Kong aired on Wednesday morning a recording of remarks by Prof. Arthur Li Kwok-cheung during a Sept. 29 meeting in which the council voted down the nomination of former HKU law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun to be the university’s pro vice chancellor for academic staffing and resources.
EJ Insight is providing an edited transcript of the recording, which comes in three sections.
Mr. Chairman, when I came on the scene I thought it would be a straightforward matter. The vice chancellor made the recommendation and we were well expected to give him the stamp. However, I do have some worries that I feel I should articulate.
The dean, the vice chancellor illuminated, in those old days was elected by the faculty. So all you have to do is to be a nice guy to everyone. And I think Johannes Chan is a very nice guy. And at this point I like to declare my interest, because of one of the referees is my cousin (Andrew Li Kwok-nang). My cousin said he is a very, very nice guy.
My main worry on the academic side is that he has no higher degree of PhD or MD or LLD. You may say in law it is not necessary. Well, if it is not necessary, why is there such a degree in the first place?
And if you look at other referee professors, they all have LLDs. Therefore, either he hasn’t tried or he is too busy or he doesn’t think it’s important. But if that’s the case, he will be devaluating … maybe of the lecturers or professors who have got PhDs who have gone through the rigors of academic pursuits. Now can you … can someone be in charge of the promotion of other persons who actually has not gone through same rigors as that other person and give an honest, independent, objective view?
The second thing I would like to point out is that it’s said that we have been [under] a lot of pressure from the Liaison Office and from the Chief Executive. But I would like to say very categorically that I have not been under any pressure. It has been said that the left-wing press Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao have been running tons of articles against this candidate. Honestly, I don’t read Wen Wei Po or Ta Kung Pao. And I think most people in Hong Kong don’t read Wen Wei Po or Ta Kung Pao. So most people have a negative view that the more they say something the more we feel “anti” whatever they say.
However, on the other side, a political party – is very organized and very well-informed – how would I say it? – very keen to push this candidate. As Leonie [Ki man-fung] said, by intimidation, by invading our council meeting, by having concern groups and all threatening JRs and everything. But I just wonder why … why is this political party so keen on this candidate?
You know, in the mainland, a university has a party committee secretary (黨委書記). Do they want a party committee secretary at HKU? Is he a party committee secretary? They want to put him here as party committee secretary.
So I don’t know. Forgetting all the politics, all these things make me uncomfortable and uneasy for this candidate.
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