Alumni and students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have demanded that the latest appointment to its governing council be withdrawn. They claim the appointment was a “political reward” for those who support Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Vincent Marshall Lee Kwan-ho was appointed to a three-year term on the council on Friday, effective June 1. Lee is the chairman of Tung Tai Group of Companies, a financial company, and an independent non-executive director of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

A petition was launched by two CUHK alumni groups opposing the appointment, saying that Lee had appeared on stage several times during Leung’s election campaign in 2012. They say he is a member of the Standing Committee of Guangxi province’s political consultative body and signed a petition against the pro-democracy Occupy protests of 2014.

Vincent Lee. Photo: Tung Tai/CUHK.

In an interview with Ming Pao in March, Lee said that he supported Leung’s possible re-election in 2017, stating that he has done many positive things for Hong Kong, but they were not reported on by the media.

“Such an appointment makes us question whether Leung Chun-ying gives out university council seats as political rewards, seriously damaging institutional autonomy,” the petition said.

The CUHK Alumni Defend Institutional Autonomy Concern Group and the Chinese University Alumni Concern Group on University Development said Leung did not consult the views of teachers, students and alumni before making the appointment.

Leung chun-ying. Photo: GovHK screenshot.

The groups said that Leung has been appointing controversial figures to councils of universities, namely appointing Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as the chairman of the University of Hong Kong council, and pro-Beijing figures like Maggie Chan Man-ki and Junius Ho Kwan-yiu as members of the Lingnan University council.

“In theory, the chief executive should appoint people that are familiar with the higher education sector,” the groups said.

The groups demanded the government, or the university, change the ordinance governing the university, so that the Chief Executive would not be the chancellor and would not have the power to appoint council members. The adjustment would protect institutional autonomy and academic freedom, they say.

Open University appointee 

Also on Friday, Gary Yeung Man-yui, a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, was appointed as a council member at the Open University. He begins a three-year term effective on June 20.

Yeung lost his district council seat in the elections last September.

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.