HKU law dean defends faculty over inferior work claims

February 06, 2015 15:10
Michael Hor Yew Meng says the HKU faculty has sought to produce high-quality research and publications which have a high impact in Hong Kong and the world. Photo: HKEJ

University of Hong Kong (HKU) law dean Michael Hor Yew Meng is defending the faculty against claims of poor performance. 

HKU has sought to produce high-quality research and publications which have a high impact in Hong Kong and the world, Hor said in an internal letter.

He said the law faculty divides its time and resources between them, sometimes at the expense of one over the other. 

"That is a trade-off the faculty is proud to make," he said.

The letter appeared to be in response to attacks by pro-Beijing newspapers on Hor's predecessor, Johannes Chan, whom they accused of presiding over lackluster research on his watch, Apple Daily reported Friday.

This week, Chan said in a newspaper article that the criticism coincided with reports he is about to be appointed by HKU as an executive vice president.

He accused Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung of trying to derail the process.

The newspapers cited a report by the University Grants Committee (UGC) in concluding that HKU’s law school produced inferior academic results compared with the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"The faculty does not, by any means, intend to convey the impression that it thinks there is no room for improvement," Hor said.

He said the faculty has been engaged in "a wide-ranging exercise of institutional self-reflection and strategic planning" in line with the university's aim to be among the top law schools in the world. 

Meanwhile, in a statement Thursday, UGC reaffirmed its support for freedom of academic research and independence.

Course development, staff appointments, research projects, student admissions and resource allocation are internal affairs of the concerned schools, it said.

The statement appeared to distance UGC from the government after Chan accused education officials of leaking confidential information about HKU, analysts were quoted as saying.

Legal sector lawmaker Kwok Wing-hang said he will press the government on the matter, adding he agreed with Hor’s statements.

However, Kwok said he had been expecting a stronger response.

Hours after Hor released the letter, Sing Tao Daily reported that his contract with HKU is "unusually favorable".

Hor's 12-year tenure is more than twice the standard five years and that Chan was behind the deal, the report said, citing unnamed sources.

HKU law principal lecturer Eric Cheung said an independent committee appointed Hor and that Chan could not have been involved in the discussions.

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