New uni head pledges to give all sides a fair shake

Top News | Sophie Hui 19 Jan 2018

I'm all ears, said the newly appointed president of the Hong Kong University Science and Technology Wei Shyy yesterday when he met the media.

Shyy, 62, said he will listen to everyone, no matter if they are from the central government liaison office or if they are pro-independence students.

Asked if he would stop students talking about Hong Kong independence on campus, Shyy said the university is open and it will not set any particular agenda to restrict students in discussing certain topics.

"We support all members, our students, our staff, our faculties to pursue individual interests," said Shyy, an aerospace expert who joined HKUST as a provost in 2010.

He will take over from Tony Chan Fan-cheong in September.

"We don't have any particular agenda that we want to restrict people. We only ask people what kind of academic standard, quality, originality can one accomplish," Shyy said.

However, the university will follow the joint statement issued by 10 university heads in September last year in which they denied support for Hong Kong independence.

But Shyy said he is willing to talk to students, faculty and university staff to have "better mutual understanding and mutual support."

Shyy admitted he has met officials from the liaison office on different occasions, but he added that the university has never received an order to follow certain policies.

"Since I came in, the university has - to my knowledge - never been asked or even hinted at to follow any particular policy or advice from the liaison office. In fact, I have never received any advice from the liaison office," he said.

Shyy also said he has never discussed Hong Kong independence issue with the liaison office or the government.

He said the university is "open to engage in communication with a wide range of stakeholders and interested parties."

Shyy added: "We do not set self-limitations. We shouldn't say someone - because of their standing, position or viewpoint - should be excluded.

"We're fully engaged with all sectors in Hong Kong. So we cannot and should not set any limitations. It would not serve our university's interest if we refuse to talk to any group."

Shyy said his appointment is "a very distinct honor" and he will do his best to push the university forward.

Chan will go on a exchange program to Stanford University next month, when Shyy becomes acting president.

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