SCMP Thursday, September 7, 2000


DONS' DOWNFALL

I had university's best interest at heart, says Wong

Wong Siu-lun's statement:
''I have today tendered my resignation as pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong with immediate effect.
When I accepted the appointment as pro-vice-chancellor of the university on April 1, 1998, I regarded it as an honour and an awesome responsibility. I never underestimated the challenge involved. I knew there would be knotty problems to be solved and thorny issues to be handled. I tried to discharge my duties in the best way I know and to the best of my ability. I knew that taking up the position would involve some sacrifice and would detract me from my own research and writing work. But I still felt that it would be a worthwhile sacrifice if I could, through my work, create a favourable environment for the whole university to move forward in its academic development. I have now reviewed my original belief, and it is my wish to step down from the position of pro-vice-chancellor.
I am of the firm view that the recent Robert Chung polling incident has been blown out of all proportion. It has inflicted great damage to the university. As one of the involved parties, I have already submitted my observation on the investigation panel's report to both the council and the senate of the university as my final attempt to clarify my role in the unfortunate incident. I have stated clearly that with due respect to the panel, I cannot accept its final opinion.
I have pointed out in my submission to the council and the senate that I was assisting the investigation panel as a witness, not a defendant. I believed in the course of natural justice, that fairness would prevail, that the system we had developed at the university would give us a fair deal.
I have also stated in my submission that, with due respect to the panel, I cannot accept their opinion that ''as a result of the conversation between Mr Lo and the vice-chancellor on January 6, 1999, Professor S.L. Wong, acting at the behest of the vice-chancellor, conveyed a message to Dr Chung on January 29, 1999, which was calculated to inhibit his right to academic freedom'', nor can I accept that ''a majority of the panel is further satisfied that Professor S.L. Wong, again acting at the behest of the vice-chancellor, on November 1, 1999, conveyed a similar calculated message to Dr Chung''. I have given my reasons clearly in my submissions.
I maintain that I always have the best interest of the university in my heartand that I still perceive my role in the whole incident as being honourable. It is my fervent hope now that this sad saga would come to an end, that the bleeding would stop, and that the healing process for our university would begin.''