The Council of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) is set meet on Tuesday to discuss how student union president Billy Fung Jing-en will be punished after he disclosed confidential information regarding the Council.

In September, Fung breached the Council’s confidentiality rules by publicly revealing the reasoning behind the body’s controversial decision to reject Johannes Chan Man-mun’s candidature for the University’s pro-vice-chancellor.

Despite being one of the main agenda points, the HKU Council does not have a formal disciplinary mechanism to punish members for disobeying confidentiality rules, Apple Daily reported.

Billy Fung Jing-en. Photo: HKU Undergrad via Facebook.
Billy Fung Jing-en. Photo: HKU Undergrad via Facebook.

HKU Academic Staff Association chairman Cheung Sing-wai told the newspaper that many Council members publicly criticised Fung after the disclosure, showing that they were biased against him. It would therefore be unfair if the related members were present at the meeting to discuss his punishment, he said.

Cheung added that they cannot rule out organising actions supporting Fung if disciplinary action was taken against him.

HKU Alumni Concern Group at a protest (left) and Arthur Li (right).
HKU Alumni Concern Group at a protest (left) and Arthur Li (right).

Class boycott threat
Meanwhile, the HKU Alumni Concern Group have said that they will use whatever means possible to prevent the appointment of Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as chairman of the Council, including filing a judicial review and organising class boycotts.

The term of the current chairman Edward Leong Che-hung will end on November 6. Li could be appointed by the Chief Executive on Friday, Apple Daily reported.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, who is also the convenor of the group, said that Li has a poor track record of intervening during his tenure as Chinese University vice-chancellor and Secretary for Education and Manpower, thus harming institutional autonomy and academic freedom.

He said Li “hates HKU,” and that he had asked people not to donate to the university whilst he was in the government.

Leaflets given out at HKU opposing Arthur Li.
Leaflets given out at HKU opposing Arthur Li. Photo: HKFP.

Ip added that if Li is appointed, it will show that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying wants to create further conflicts at HKU in order to control it.

As David Li Kwok-po of Li’s family is already HKU pro-chancellor, Ip also questioned whether appointing Arthur Li would give the Li family too much power on campus.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union surveyed 670 teachers and staff union members of higher education institutions, and found that 74 percent of those surveyed felt that Arthur Li should not be the chairman of the Council.

HKPTU president Fung Wai-wah urged the government not to do so, saying that it would have a disastrous outcome for the education sector.

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.