4th October 2013
HKU Vice Chancellor Candidate Prof Mathieson Being Criticised as “Not Qualified” – Mathieson: Respect Her Opinion
Prof. Peter W. Mathieson, the candidate nominated as the Vice Chancellor of University of Hong Kong (HKU), made his presence in HKU today. Prior to a closed door meeting with the teaching staff, students and alumni of the university, Mathieson said that he is happy to be nominated and emphasised that he would strive to safeguard HKU’s academic freedom and his principles. Commenting on the article written by Professor Chan Yuen-ying, Director of HKU’s Journalism and Media Centre, which questioned his capabilities, Mathieson said he respects her opinion.
Professor Mathieson is the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at Bristol University. He is the only candidate nominated by the HKU selection committee. The Council of HKU will decide whether or not to appoint him this afternoon. The last expatriate Vice Chancellor at HKU was Professor William Ian Rees Davies who heads up the university between 2000 and 2002.
Chan questioned in her article that Mathieson’s medical achievements are a “marginal pass” and cannot be seen as “outstanding”, has no experience in Hong Kong and Asia affairs, cannot speak any Chinese languages makes it impossible for him to stay atop of Hong Kong. She also questioned why Mathieson’s resume mentioned “do my best to assist Uganda” in the Mission Statement section, and suggested that it was an mistake made from simply copy and paste this section from his previous application submitted to somewhere in Uganda.
Professor Chan’s criticisms triggered an uproar on the internet. Netizens found Professor Mathieson’s resume (see below) which stated his experience in Asia, including Hong Kong.
Comments slashing comments made by Professor Chan, who is the Dean of Shantou University’s Cheung Kong School of Journalism and Communications:
- English is the medium of instruction in all universities in Hong Kong except faculties of Chinese language, and understanding Hong Kong affairs does not necessarily require Chinese language skill – comments also mocked that if not speaking Chinese language means inability to understand the local affairs in Hong Kong, the expats who work in the local investment markets would have all gone bankrupt
- “But if a medical professor from the British city of Bristol, with a population of 430,000, is to parachute into Hong Kong to … safeguard our freedom, that’s a big joke,” said Chan in her article. Netizens argued that Harvard and MIT are located in a city with similar population, and questioned if only professors from New York, London and Los Angeles are qualified to be HKU’s Vice Chancellor
- For criticism about Mathieson’s “lack of dreams”, netizens said that Mathieson would not have the same dreams as Xi Jingping, “The China Dreams”. Some said that China’s definition of dreams is probably limited as becoming a CPPCC member after the tenure, which is a dream shared by those who publicly support China and the Communist Party