SCMP Saturday, November 10, 2001

Students decry singing academic's ban


Students complained yesterday that the decision to suspend singing academic Henry Mok Tai-kee for six months from his post at Baptist University was not enough.
Student representatives demanded that Professor Mok be forced to step down altogether.
The university's investigation committee concluded at a recent hearing that most of the students' accusations against Professor Mok, former head of the department of social work, were substantiated, sources told the South China Morning Post.
In all, 59 students from the department, including 24 who graduated in June, claimed in August that Professor Mok was often late and sang songs during lectures. His repertoire included We Shall Overcome and Albert King's Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, as well as a number of Cantonese songs.
Professor Mok was also accused of encouraging students to commit suicide, an allegation he later denied as "exaggerated and out of context".
In an open letter in September, Professor Mok also defended singing songs during his lectures, saying it was aimed at creating a relaxed atmosphere.
The university removed him from his post as head of department that month and set up a four-member committee to look into the allegations.
The committee, headed by the dean of the faculty of social sciences, Professor Frank Fu Ho-kin, summoned Professor Mok and students during the probe.
Social students who read the report said the committee had recommended that Professor Mok be suspended for six months for misconduct, but should be given a chance to correct his mis takes.
The report was submitted to university president Professor Ng Ching-fai early this week. Neither Professor Mok nor Professor Ng could be reached for comment yesterday.
But Patrick Lam Chun-ming, a social work graduate, said he and his classmates did not agree with the recommendation.
He said that the representatives of the students were not invited to join the committee. "We still insist that Professor Mok should resign from the university," he said.
Terrence Kwan Chi-kwong, president of the university's student union, said they would discuss the issue soon. "We're concerned about the impact on students," he said.
Acting department head Dr Sammy Chiu Wai-sang said the university had not notified him about how to handle Professor Mok's case. "I hope the university can make the final decision as soon as possible so that we can make necessary adjustments in staff redeployment," he said.
Professor Mok, also chairman of the Social Security Society, teaches three courses at the department. A spokesman for Baptist University said Professor Ng would make a final decision later this month.