New CUHK head vows to protect freedoms

Local | Sum Lok-kei 4 Jan 2018

Rocky Tuan Sung-chi, the Chinese University of Hong Hong's new vice-chancellor, said freedom of speech is the foundation of the institution, and urged students to exercise their rights in a "rational and peaceful" manner.

Speaking on his second day of work, Tuan, who is CUHK's eighth vice-chancellor, vowed to protect academic freedom and freedom of speech on campus.

However, he refused dwell on what he would do if students were to once again put up posters and banners advocating Hong Kong's independence.

"The university has a clear stance and clear measures. In such situations, first we have to defend the freedom of speech and academic freedom, but we also need to respect other people's opinions," Tuan said. He also failed to mention if the joint statement issued by 10 university heads last September was still be applicable, following the resignation of his predecessor, Joseph Sung Jao-yiu.

The statement, which was released after material calling for the SAR's independence appeared on bulletin boards at a number of universities, said university heads don't support Hong Kong independence.

Despite saying he wishes to meet students through an open letter, he has yet to announce when that will happen. "In the coming months, I have many opportunities to meet the students," he said.

The biomedical researcher said his first responsibility is to maintain the traditions and competitiveness of the university.

He also vowed to serve the CUHK community with an "open and respectful" attitude.

Tuan said he met with the university's senior management team to discuss the current situation and future development of the institution, and visited four critical facilities on campus related to electronic learning.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said Tuan needs to clearly state his ideology on freedom of speech and academic freedom.

"Many people these days might add that freedom of speech has its boundaries, for example, one cannot commit libel," Ip said.

Ip said the discussion of controversial topics should be considered part of academic freedom.

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