Via the South China Morning Post, an alarming report: 'I might as well deal with mucor spores': Top scientist quits HKU council feeling 'powerless' amid deputy head controversy. I posted about Dr. Yuen Kwok-yung earlier today; he is a major scientist with a quarter-century of experience in emerging diseases. Excerpt and then a comment:
A top microbiology professor today confirmed he was the second member of the University of Hong Kong’s governing council to resign this month, saying he felt powerless to resolve the controversy over the appointment of a liberal scholar to a key position.
Professor Yuen Kwok-yung said he quit because he was “incapable of dealing with the politics in the university council”, after the body made a controversial decision to delay the appointment of moderate pro-democracy scholar and former law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun to the post of pro-vice-chancellor.
Yuen’s resignation came days after an HKU council meeting descended into chaos on Tuesday, when a group of students stormed the body’s meeting room and urged councillors to stop delaying Chan’s appointment.
But he declined to link his decision with the incident, saying it was “related to many things ... Even the storming was not caused by the students themselves, it was caused by the selection of a pro-vice-chancellor”.
“There were a lot of people outside [the university], a lot of political forces from outside trying to affect this situation, so in the end students barged into the meeting,” Yuen said.
He said he has been considering resigning in recent months, and only filed his resignation letter last night. He will stay in the council until a replacement is elected.
Yuen said that for decades, Hong Kong had been able to find a way out amid clashes of ideas, political beliefs and forces. But in recent years, it seemed the city had lost that ability.
“I don’t have any political training, but the council is a miniature version of society,” Yuen said. “In recent years, Hong Kong has been going through political turbulence, and politics was brought into the council ... I think I should let a capable person take my place."
It's often said that academic politics is so vicious because the stakes are so small. But the stakes here are very high. If the the University of Hong Kong, a world leader in emerging diseases, can't maintain a democratic political environment—especially for its its scientists—then we'll be in big trouble when the next disease crosses the border from Guangdong.