HKU to appoint chief of police watchdog as head of university council

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Priscilla Wong, chairwoman of the Independent Police Complaints Council, is set to take over University Council seat in 2022.

Image: Priscilla Wong via RTHK.

Priscilla Wong, chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Council, will succeed Professor Arthur Li after he completes his sixth year as council chair of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Wong is an alumni of HKU, having studied her Undergraduate in Law at the University before completing a Masters in London. She was called to the Bar in Hong Kong in 1983 and is still a practicing barrister.

Wong was formally appointed as head of the IPCC in May and took up the position on 1 June, replacing Anthony Francis Neoh, and previously served on the IPCC council between 2005 to 2010. At the point she was appointed to several government positions which she still holds including the head of the Minimum Wage Commission, a board member of the Hospitals Authority. She was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 2005 and is a member of the Shanghai arm of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). She is also the wife of pro-Beijing politician Martin Liao who is currently running for the Commercial (second) functional constituency. Liao is running as an independent candidate, though he is also a member of the National People’s Congress. Wong was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star earlier in the year for her services to the public over her long legal and political career.

In 2020, the IPCC, then chaired by Neoh, cleared the police force of misconduct during the 2019 protests in a thematic study which concluded that officers generally acted within guidelines but there was “room for improvement”.

Changes at HKU

Wong will succeed Professor Arthur Li after he completes his sixth year as council chair. Hong Kong university has recently experienced some reshuffling among its leadership ranks, including newly appointed deans in several faculties. During Li’s tenure as the council chair, the University replaced vice-counselor Peter Mathieson with Professor Xiang Zhang, the first mainland born-and-educated vice-counselor in the University’s history. Mathieson himself was a controversial character having denounced Hong Kong independence, and simultaneously being said to not “effectively protect[ing] academic freedom” in a staff survey before his departure.

Most recently, Professor Gabriel Leung, Dean of the University’s Medical School, announced his resignation for upcoming June. He will be taking up a position with the Hong Kong Jockey Club as its Executive Director for Charities and Community. In a Memorandum of Understanding in September, HKU announced its intention to open a campus in Nanshou District, Shenzhen to capitalise on the integration of Hong Kong into the Greater Bay Area. No opening date has yet to be announced.

Additional Reporting by Cyril Ma

This article was first summarized by Harbour Times on High Tide. Subscribe to High Tide for easy-to-read daily news and events updates directly sent to your mailbox. Click here for one free trial month (available till Christmas 2021)

Update: 30/11 This article originally incorrectly stated that Priscilla Wong was chairman of the IPCC in 2020 during the writing of the thematic study on police conduct during 2019. Mr. Neoh was still the head of the IPCC until 2021. Clarity also amended for Wong having been appointed in May 2021 and serving from June 2021.