Chairman of the University of Hong Kong’s governing council Arthur Li Kwok-cheung says he accepted his new role as chairman as he did not want “mob rule” in Hong Kong.

Speaking on TVB Pearl’s programme Straight Talk on Tuesday, Li said that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying invited him to take the post in October, but he took two months to make the decision.

He went on to say that the decision was made based on two reasons: whether he could do a good job, and whether the reasons for opposing his appointment were valid.

“If in Hong Kong, a small group of people could – by dint of their voice – shout loudest, could decide who could or could not take on whatever post, then we have anarchy in Hong Kong,” he said. “If just because you shout loudest, and just because you have banners, you could influence that. This is very bad for Hong Kong, and somebody has to draw a line, and say ‘We don’t want mob rule in Hong Kong’.”

Arthur Li. File Photo: Stand News.

He added that the main reason he accepted the post was because there was political interference in the opposition of his appointment.

The former education minister was appointed on New Year’s Eve. Previous polls conducted among HKU’s teaching staff, students and alumni showed that the vast majority rejected Li. More than a dozen political groups formed by professionals issued a joint statement against his appointment in early January.

Liberal law professor Johannes Chan Man-mun’s nomination for pro-vice-chancellorship was voted down last year at an HKU Council meeting. Leaked tapes from the meeting revealed Li had attacked Chan for not having a doctoral degree.

University of Hong Kong main building. Photo: HKU

Li said there was a smear campaign against his reputation, and added that there were people who “hide behind the slogan of academic freedom” in order not to do their work.

“The important thing to me is that students are there to get a good education, and what does a good education mean? That means studying,” he said. “But let’s get their priorities right.”

A group of HKU students called a meeting on Monday to elect members of student strike committee. Around 200 HKU students attended the meeting to discuss the timetable of a class boycott and objectives of the strike. A strike could be called as early as January 20, Apple Daily reported.

Koel Chu

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.