Li needs six months to map out HKU strategy

Top News | Adeline Mak 13 Jan 2016

Arthur Li Kwok-cheung says he will not interfere with University of Hong Kong's academic freedom, in his first interview after being appointed the institution's council chairman.

Academic freedom is "essential for a truly great university," Li told TVB's Straight Talk.

He is also giving himself six months "to put the strategic direction of HKU right."

Li, 70, dismissed worries he would control the university for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

"I certainly will not get involved with the day- to-day running of the university, that's the job of the vice chancellor," he said. "I certainly would not want to be running the university."

Li said a "mob rule" campaign was mounted against him even before he was offered the job in October. Li said it took him two months to accept the job offer, in which time he got smeared.

"Somebody has to draw the line and say we don't want mob rule in Hong Kong," Li said.

He said those who opposed him said he hated HKU, which was "absolutely ludicrous."

He said that when he was the vice chancellor of Chinese University, "HKU was my competitor" and he had to "protect" CUHK.

"I don't think you can give me one example where HKU was victimized" during his five-year term as education chief, Li said. "If a small group of people could, by dint of their voice, shout loudest, decide what could or could not take on whatever post, then we have anarchy."

Li reiterated his position that Johannes Chan Man-mun was not qualified to be pro vice chancellor.

Li said he did not regret his previous statements that some students were not academically gifted, that they want to be heroes to impress girlfriends, and professors were not doing their job properly, and then they disappear into "Neverland."

He added: "There is no need to force me to kneel and apologize for saying what I believe."

The HKU Student Union slammed Li.

"What is ludicrous is the fact that Li, who is unsuitable for the post, has been appointed," said president Billy Fung Jing-en.

"We don't have confidence in Li, judging from his past performance in the council."

On January 3, thousands took to the streets to protest Li's appointment, which was announced on December 29.

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