19 September 2019
Peter Mathieson (inset) says there is no requirement for a candidate to express sympathy, in response to Lo Chung-mau's complaint that Johannes Chan failed to do so after Lo injured himself in a fall July 28. Photos: HKEJ
Peter Mathieson (inset) says there is no requirement for a candidate to express sympathy, in response to Lo Chung-mau's complaint that Johannes Chan failed to do so after Lo injured himself in a fall July 28. Photos: HKEJ

Mathieson, Lo debate Chan appointment in latest HKU leak

An exchange between University of Hong Kong vice chancellor Peter Mathieson and council member Lo Chung-mau is the highlight of the latest leaked recording from the HKU council’s Sept. 29 meeting, Apple Daily reported Thursday.

The recording is the second new one that has surfaced in Taiwan after HKU won a court injunction last month against further leaks following the broadcast by Commercial Radio of two excerpts from the council’s discussion about whether to appoint former HKU law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun a pro vice chancellor.

The 21-minute audio clip, together with English and Chinese transcripts (see below), was uploaded Wednesday on PTT, one of the most popular online forums in Taiwan. An earlier leaked recording was posted there Nov. 8.

Lo, head of HKU’s surgery department, is heard on the latest clip saying he has known Chan since they were hostel-mates as students at the university and that Chan is “a good guy”.

Academic credentials

However, he points out that Chan has produced fewer than five academic publications a year for the last 15 years.

“If I have an assistant professor with this kind of output, I will be very concerned …” Lo is heard saying on the recording.

Lo said he was concerned that as pro vice chancellor for academic staffing and resources, Chan’s lack of a PhD degree would put him at a disadvantage when deciding on whether a PhD holder should be promoted.

The candidate would really say, ‘Look at your CV, your CV is not as good as mine.’ How can you turn down an application, if you don’t have the kind of quality?” Lo is quoted as saying in the transcript.

Mathieson, who chaired the HKU search committee that unanimously recommended Chan for the position, replied:“… there were four academic members on the search committee … 

“Academic credentials were considered, and were considered suitable.

“Council members may disagree. But I am not going to go back from the judgment made by the search committee.

As to a comment to the number of papers he published, I think it’s utterly irrelevant.

“There’s no job description that says you should have published a certain number of papers or you’re not qualified for this role … and you can’t transfer from medicine into law, because the publication requirement is different.”

Lack of sympathy

Lo then turned to the storming of the council meeting on July 28 by a group of students.

“And after the event, I really didn’t see him showing any sympathy for the council members, and in particular … I … myself …” he said.

“I am a staff member elected by all the other staff to take part, and I sustained an injury.

“From all the opinion that he has expressed, actually he’s still putting the blame on the council, he has never — I’m not saying I need his sympathy.

“But as a staff member, I really feel if you are PVC (staffing) and if a staff member had an injury during an event like this, should you just keep on saying it’s the council’s fault. That means it’s my fault as well?

“So in a way he’s telling the public, he’s speaking out in public … that the fault remains in the council … in a way … for the suffering I encountered.”

Mathieson replied: “… I think you’ve taken things very personally, and I think we should keep things to factual discussion, and the purpose of the candidate.

“There’s no requirement in the job description for the candidate to express sympathy or otherwise for anybody who is injured … the events that happened since the search committee’s paper was written on 27 May — there have been many things written and said, a lot of opinions.

“I prefer to stick to the facts. And the facts that the committee had to consider were the qualification and suitability for the post.

“I’ve already said at the start of the meeting that it’s my view that whilst none of the outcomes are attractive, to my mind, there will be less damage done to the university by the acceptance of the nomination …”

The newspaper could not reach Lo for comments on the recording, which a HKU spokesman also declined to comment on.

Chan said he did not express his sympathy to Lo owing to a concern that he would be criticized as toadying.

He said no “layman” is qualified to judge his academic professionalism.


Video of Lo Chung-mau’s fall during council meeting July 28:

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