The term of the current chair of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Council, Edward Leong Che-hung, will end on Friday but the government still has yet to appoint a replacement for his position.

Council member Arthur Li Kwok-cheung and Rosie Young Tse-tse have been rumoured to be up for the position, but the government gazette published last Friday and this Friday did not make any appointment.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said on a RTHK radio programme that it was a strange situation that has never happened before. He said he believed it will affect the daily operation of the Council and the transition between the current and the new chair.

He added that the tasks of the chair are very complicated, especially given the current environment. As the chair is the one and only spokesperson of the Council, members can only announce the decisions made by the Council, but not exercise the chair’s power to speak publicly and explain the decisions, due to the Council’s confidentiality agreement.

Arthur Li (left) and Edward Leong (right)
Arthur Li (left) and Edward Leong (right). File

Cheung Tat-ming, a principal law lecturer at HKU, said on Commercial Radio that the HKU Council is in a “ridiculous” situation now.

He said the new chair should have been appointed on Friday, and he was worried that Arthur Li would be the choice.

He added that he was relieved as Arthur Li had not been appointed yet, but at the same time this meant the government was breaking the rules to delay the appointment.

When asked to comment, Edward Leong told Commercial Radio that he was busy attending a meeting and he had nothing to add.

Future actions

If necessary, the government might publish an extraordinary gazette, on a day other than the usual Friday, to appoint the Council chair soon.

A political column in the Hong Kong Economic Times reported that Arthur Li is still the candidate that the government would likely appoint.

An anonymous veteran politician in the pro-government camp told the newspaper that the appointment would likely be made after the District Council election on November 22, so as to not influence the results of the election.

According to the statute of the HKU Council, if there is not a chair in place, members can vote for a one-time chair amongst the members to host the meeting.

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Photo: StandNews.

The next Council meeting will be held on November 24.

The terms of three other members are also set come to an end in early December, with eight candidates in the running for the seats. Of these, six have said they oppose the rumoured appointment of Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as the new chairperson of the Council.

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.