Community & Education Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Academic freedom advocates elected as HKU Council members

Three professors at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) who advocate for academic freedom, have been elected as members of its governing Council.

There were eight candidates running in the election for the three seats. The terms of three full-time teaching members elected by staff are set come to an end on December 8. The newly appointed members will begin their terms on December 9.

Timothy O'Leary, Cheung Kie-chung, Joseph Chan Cho-wai.

Joseph Chan Cho-wai, Cheung Kie-chung, Timothy O’Leary. Photo: Apple Daily and Stand News.

Head of the School of Humanities Timothy O’Leary and politics professor Joseph Chan Cho-wai were elected by 322 and 328 votes respectively. O’Leary said in a Facebook post that they were elected “in a resounding vote that makes clear the views of the majority of HKU staff.”

Mechanical engineering Professor Cheung Kie-chung was re-elected by 183 votes. O’Leary said Cheung “is also a strong defender of institutional autonomy and academic freedom.”

“The views of the teachers of HKU are now clear: we will not allow our core values to be undermined or eroded,” O’Leary added.

All three of them have said that they oppose the rumoured appointment of Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as the new chairperson of the Council. It is rumoured that Li will be appointed as the new chairperson after the District Council election on November 22.

hku logo

The logo of HKU. Photo: StandNews.

In October, O’Leary organised a silent rally at HKU which around 2,000 staff and students joined in protest against the Council’s vote not to appoint liberal law scholar Johannes Chan as the pro-vice-chancellor of the University.

Previously, O’Leary has told local media that he will push forward amendments to change the current arrangement that the Chief Executive is also the chancellor of universities.

Economics Professor Richard Wong Yue-chim, also an advisor to former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa’s Our Hong Kong Foundation, lost the election by 179 votes.

Academic freedom advocates elected as HKU Council members