My Very Dear Fellow Convocation Members,

Once again and predictably, HKU caught the headlines this morning. There was blanket coverage on the long awaited Council decision on the appointment to the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Staffing and Resources), with the printed media playing up how the decision was arrived at and the student union president Billy Fung getting full coverage of his disclosure on what he said happened in camera at the Council Meeting.

Words and slogans were brandished around from all sides as Council Chairman made reference to the long-term best interests of the university, the Alumni Concern Group calling yesterday the saddest day in the University of Hong Kong’s 100 years of history, and Johannes Chan talking about academic freedom and institutional autonomy as core values of the University.

Now, immediately after the voting results were available, the Convocation Standing Committee has reflected the results and views expressed at the Extraordinary General Meeting to the Council and we are taking steps to follow up on one of the motions passed at the Meeting in relation to the setting up of a working group.

HKU has indeed been around for a long time and has stood the test of time and history. Our heritage, traditions and core values are established over time by successive generations of worthy graduates, alumni, teachers, educators, administrators and stake holders, including members of the community. They cannot and will not be eroded or destroyed overnight. Everyone who has a stake in the University has a responsibility to uphold the University’s core values such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy. This is not the privilege of any one person or group, nor can a handful of people waving banners and slogans make any meaningful inroads into our well run system. The fact that so many of the top local students have chosen HKU to further their studies is proof that many stakeholders in the community continue to have faith in our institution. Indeed, our University is OK.

I hasten to say that we would not rest on our laurels. There is always room to improve and to become better. HKU has indeed been under the microscope for some time and its performance will no doubt continue to be watched and monitored by many for different reasons. That is not something to be afraid of. In the meantime, one hopes that the University would be allowed time and space to get on with its work. As members of the Standing Committee, we stand firm on our pledge to support the University in its mission to continue its journey to becoming a world class university

I hope to talk to you again soon.

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