For the past few months, the Council of the University of Hong Kong has been under fire, mainly for its poor handling of controversial affairs such as the appointment of the pro-vice-chancellor, and the leakage of the audio tapes of the meetings where that decision was made.
After council chairman Edward Leong Che-hung’s term ended on November 6, there was a lot of speculation that Arthur Li Kwok-cheung would take over the post for the next 3 years.
If Li is appointed as the Chairman of the Council, it is bad news for the university, because Li has not proven himself worthy of the job.
According to a poll done by the student union earlier in the month, almost 5,000 students voted that Li is not fit for the post and demanded his resignation from the council. More than that, more than half of the candidates running for the full-time teachers’ role in the council have objected to his appointment.
No doubt Li is a veteran on dealing with educational affairs, but he is a controversial figure. His comments on recent affairs are considered provocative by the general public.
Back in April, Li remarked on TVB’s Straight Talk that students who joined the Occupy movement are not “academically gifted” and that they joined the movement because “they like to be heroes to their girlfriends”.
When talking about the appointment of the pro-vice-chancellor, Li stated that Johannes Chan Man-mun is not up to the post because Chan “does not have a PhD degree” and he only applied the job so he could “become the party secretary for some political parties”. Also, he claimed that Chan got appointed to be the dean of The School of Law because he is just “a nice guy”.
Since the pro-vice-chancellor fiasco, relations between students and the council are in tatters. Appointing a man who has bad relations with students does not help ease the tensions, it will only deepen the discontent among both parties. This will cause turmoil in the school and tarnish the University’s reputation.
I sincerely hope the chancellor, no other than Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying himself, can hand the task to a more suitable candidate.