Community & Education Hong Kong

HKU governing council delays decision on Occupy funds row

The University of Hong Kong’s governing council has decided to further investigate two HKU professors over their handling of donations.

Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, one of the co-founders of Occupy Central for Love and Peace, and former dean of the faculty of law Johannes Chan Man-mun were subject to the investigation after local press received leaked emails revealing Tai accepted anonymous donations to fund various Occupy related activities. Chan was accused of failing to notify the university.

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Law professor and co-founder of Occupy Central Benny Tai. Photo: Wikimedia

According to various local media reports compiled by Stand News, among the 22 members on the council:

  • 60 percent voted in favor of “accepting the report and handing it to the council for further discussion”;
  • 36 percent voted for “accepting the report and leaving the management team to follow up”;
  • Four percent voted for “accepting the report and not taking any action.”

The inquiry report that was voted upon will not be publicised.

The results mean the council may continue to pursue disciplinary action against Tai and Chan. Chan was previously tipped as a candidate for the role of pro-vice-chancellor at HKU and the delay of a definite council decision could negatively affect his chances.

In December 2014, the council assigned the audit committee to investigate Tai’s acceptance and use of $1.45 million from anonymous donors. According to local media reports, HK$800,000 was used to fund the unofficial electronic referendum on how the city’s chief executive should be elected and HK$350,000 was used to fund a research assistant who worked on the Occupy Central campaign.

However, since the report did not give concrete suggestions on the responsibilities of the persons investigated, the council voted on Tuesday evening to decide how to follow up on the report.

donations occupy central

Johannes Chan Man-mun is dean of HKU’s law faculty and widely tipped to be the university’s next pro-vice-chancellor. Photo: Wikimedia.

According to MingPao, Dr. Cheung Sing-wai, Chairman of Academic Staff Association of the University of Hong Kong, said the decision to continue the investigation was “the worst option.” Cheung said Tai and Chan would not receive a severe penalty if the report was handed to the management team to follow up.

Cheung also questioned why the council would not release the report and suggested that it may be due to pro-establishment figures within the council considering the report too moderate. They hope to punish Tai and Chan.

Of the 22 council members, six were directly appointed by Chief Executive CY Leung, who is also the Chancellor of HKU. Executive Council member and former secretary of education Arthur Li Kwok-cheung is among the six appointed.

The council will meet again next Tuesday June 30 to discuss the results of the vote.

HKU governing council delays decision on Occupy funds row