Liberal law scholar Johannes Chan Man-mun has criticised Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, chairman of the governing Council of the University of Hong Kong, saying that his comments on students were not helping to resolve the conflict. Li was one of the members who rejected Chan’s appointment as pro-vice-chancellor of HKU.

Johannes Chan. File Photo: Stand News.

The controversial appointment of Li, a pro-Beijing hardliner, sparked a week-long class boycott last week.

Hundreds of HKU students and members of the public protested last Tuesday, blocking Council members from leaving a meeting venue and demanding they explain why the establishment of a review panel was delayed. Last Thursday, Li called a press conference in response to the protest, saying the students were like people who “took drugs” and took “irrational” actions.

Chan wrote in an op-ed for Ming Pao that the press conference was “meaningless”.

“Arthur Li was fanning the flames, being extremely provocative – it will not resolve the conflict, it will only widen the rift between the students and the school,” wrote Chan.

He added that Li’s accusation that the students were being manipulated by the Civic Party was unfounded.

Arthur Li.


Li also reiterated at the press conference that Chan was rejected as the deputy chief of HKU because he did not have a doctoral degree.

However, Chan said it meant that the Council considered factors unrelated to the position’s professional requirements, a position which primarily entails human resources management.

Chan also said that the Council did not allow him to attend a meeting to defend his academic work.

“The Council did not do any serious academic assessment, did not even read one paper… The assessment was made by some members who cannot even distinguish civil and criminal offences.”

HKU vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson has condemned the students’ actions and said that the school has sent footage of the protest to the police. Chan, in turn, said that violence should be condemned, but he was “disappointed” by the school’s reaction, questioning whether it was appropriate to involve the police.

Arthur Li being surrounded.

‘Stop the smearing’

Meanwhile, a planned meeting between the student class boycott committee and Arthur Li on Wednesday was cancelled.

Kris Cheng

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.