Tit for Tat – Statement from the Hong Kong University Students’ Union on the re-appointment of Arthur Li Kwok Cheung as the HKU Council Chairman

 

The Government gazetted the re-appointment of Arthur Li Kwok Cheung as the Council Chairman of the University of Hong Kong yesterday, 15 December 2018. The Hong Kong University Students’ Union is disgruntled about the re-appointment. In 2015, 5000 HKU students demanded, through the general polling of the Union, that the HKU Council Chairmanship must be held by a candidate welcomed by staff and students in HKU and objected Li’s appointment to any positions in the University’s governance framework. As the Chancellor, Carrie Lam has done the exact opposite by reappointing Li as HKU Council Chairman. This outrageous appointment once again revealed the absurdity of the Chief Executive-cum-Chancellor practice in the University of Hong Kong Ordinance.

Li’s hostility towards the student community as well as his ridiculous statements have laid a shade on the University. His appointment as Council Chairman three years ago was likewise controversial, which has led to the student rally outside the Council. Other than evading students’ interrogation, he accused them slanderously. Li arraigned the protesting students as “drug addicts” and accused the then-President of the Students’ Union, Billy Fung, of “having problems in his character”. The Council Chairman, together with the University’s senior management, shoulder the responsibility of representing the University. Nevertheless, Li placed the University’s reputation on the line. Li has never fulfilled his duty as Council Chairman, as he tolerated the delay in the Review on University Governance. Under Li’s chairmanship, the HKU Council meeting has been convened outside the University for the first time in a futile attempt to escape from the public’s scrutiny. In fact, Li’s rashness and incompetence have been beyond words.

The Council Chairman must be responsible to all HKU students and staff. Nevertheless, the Advisory Committee on Council Chairmanship was nothing more than a confederacy, excluding opinions and engagements of students. First, the Council rejected inclusion of a student representative in the Advisory Committee and, the Committee then refused to attend an open forum and face students. Though the Advisory Committee welcomed written input from students, the Committee was de facto a pretentious party working behind closed doors. The opinion and effort of students elicited no response. Establishing the Advisory Committee was only a style and no substance. Neither the Committee needs to be responsible for HKU students and staff or the Council, nor is it in position in stopping the Chancellor in abusing her power. After all, the reform on university governance has made no progress. Co-governance by students and staff has always been the esprit de corps of HKU, yet the University has always been complacent and ceased to make progress in both the appointment of University officials and even the reform of university governance.

The Union will pay our utmost effort, without hesitation nor stumbles, in the coming time, to bring our university towards the co-governance by students and staff. Follow-up actions will come one after another. The Union hereby demands the University to face students’ concerns and demands squarely, and review the appointment procedures of Council Chairman as well as the Chief Executive-cum-Chancellor practice. We highly anticipate the University to bear the brunt and respond to all students’ concerns.

The Hong Kong University Students’ Union
15 December 2018