Peter Mathieson, the vice-chancellor of University of Hong Kong (HKU), is the real target of the leftists – or the pro-Beijing camp –  according to former lawmaker and HKU alumni Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, who was writing in an op-ed for Ming Pao.

Ng wrote that “The incident of the appointment of the pro-vice-chancellor was very well planned; the target of the leftist camp’s fierce criticism is not only Johannes Chan but the whole of HKU, as [veteran journalist] Ching Cheong has revealed, with the intention of destroying it, as the Chinese Communist Party has done for the nine renowned universities [in China].”

“At the 90th anniversary dinner of HKU in 2001, [former Chief Executive] Tung Chee-hwa spoke against HKU as an elite university of the colonial era, and said that it must be completely reformed to be allowed in the SAR.”

“Recent commentaries, including those from [former Ming Pao editor] Kevin Lau, have warned that rejecting Johannes Chan’s appointment could create a chilling effect, affecting HKU’s name and future — which is the real objective of the leftists’ campaign!”

Margaret Ng (left) and Peter Mathieson (right)
Margaret Ng (left) and Peter Mathieson (right). File

She said that the campaign against Mathieson has already started: “The next mission of the HKU Council is to create an environment where he is unable to work, no matter how practical he wants to be, so that he will have to resign.”

“Before getting rid of the vice-chancellor, fear will spread in HKU, making people in the school want the ones under criticism to leave as soon as possible.” She added, “But when these people are gone, HKU will be ruled by third-rate ‘scholars’ supported by leftists, it will fall into decline, and that will be the moment when the job of the leftists is done.”

She said that the HKU Convocation has passed a non-binding motion suggesting that the Chief Executive should be removed as chancellor of the university to avoid abuse of power, and the Council’s rejection of the recommended pro-vice-chancellor appointment has proved “it is of the utmost necessity”.

“HKU cannot defend itself if such [a formation of the] Council is not abolished,” she wrote, “If you are not willing to be enslaved, you have to be prepared to fight. Those who love HKU, if you are not willing to see the 100-year-old school in decline, you have to be prepared for a long term fight.”

Johannes Chan
Johannes Chan. File

Rejection of Johannes Chan as pro-vice-chancellor

On September 29, the appointment of law scholar Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro-vice-chancellor of HKU was rejected by its Council.

Since then, many people have voiced anger and disquiet, and events have been held on the issue, including a candlelight vigil organised by HKU alumni, a silent rally attended by around 2,000 HKU staff and students and a statement from the Faculty of Law of HKU supporting Chan. On the other hand, a group of pro-government demonstrators convened at HKU last Friday and expressed their disapproval of Peter Mathieson.

Meanwhile the state-run tabloid Global Times called Chan “the ringleader of Occupy Central” after his appointment was rejected.

HKU Student Union president Billy Fung Jing-en has also come under fire from members of the Council for disclosing confidential information regarding the discussion of the appointment of the pro-vice-chancellor.

Read: HKFP’s explainer on the debacle.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.