Two students from the University of Hong Kong Student Union (HKUSU) will be filing for judicial review on Tuesday in respect of the university governing council’s decision to reject the appointment of former law dean Johannes Chan as pro-vice-chancellor.

As the judicial review concerns events that took place at the HKU Council meeting on September 29, the deadline for applying is three months from that date, which is this Tuesday. HKUSU President Billy Fung and External Vice-President Colman Li Fung-kei will be filing as the HKU Council student representative and a student of the university respectively.

billy fung
Billy Fung. Photo: Stand News.

Li told Apple Daily that they will be applying for legal aid. Their grounds for judicial review include the failure of the Council to state their reasons for refusing the appointment; the Council having taken irrelevant considerations into account in their decision making; and procedural unfairness in not giving Johannes Chan a chance to respond to the claims. Li also said they hope that with the judicial review will prompt the Council to reconsider its decision and that there will be justice.

Meanwhile, the position of the chair of the HKU Council has been left vacant for almost two months since Edward Leong Che-hung’s term ended on November 6. There has been wide speculation that Arthur Li Kwok-cheung will become the new chairperson, with sources saying that he could be appointed as early as Thursday.

The Council regularly meets on the last Tuesday of every month, but it will not do so this month; the meeting has been postponed to January 26, Apple Daily said. The reason given was that there were no pressing issues to be discussed, rather than to “first wait for Arthur Li to be appointed”.

arthur li
Arthur Li. Photo: Stand News.

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 as pro-vice-chancellor. Later, leaked recordings of the Council meeting,featuring speeches by various Council members, confirmed Fung’s earlier accounts of the meeting. In October, Fung was barred from attending future confidential meetings of the Council.

In November, HKU alumni voted overwhelmingly against the possible appointment of pro-Beijing hardliner Arthur Li Kwok-cheung to the chairmanship of the school’s governing Council. 4,454 alumni voted on five non-binding motions, of which 97.8 percent or 4,356 identified Li as not suitable to be the chairman of the Council, “as he does not have the trust, confidence and respect of the academic and non-academic staff, students and alumni of the University of Hong Kong.”

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.