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Friday, May 24, 2024

Chinese U council shrinking to 34 members

Chinese University's governing council has endorsed a motion to shrink its 54-strong structure to 34 members at most, including cutting the existing three ex-official lawmaker members to two.
Speaking after the meeting, council chairman John Chai Yat-chiu said the council was in favor of the proposal, adding that the 2016 bill, which suggested the number of council members be cut from 53 to 29, remains valid.

It heard a proposal from the Task force on the Review of the Size and Composition of the CUHK Council yesterday to have 25 to 34 council members, with a proportion of 1.64 to 2.13 non-academic councilors for every academic councilor on the board.

Increasing the number of non-academic staff in the council would allow greater control and subject school management to greater public scrutiny, lawmaker-councilor Edward Lau Kwok-fan said in December last year.

That was when he and two other lawmakers Tommy Cheung Yu-yan and Bill Tang Ka-piu proposed to establish a task force to undertake consultations on the council's composition and structure. The task force on the reorganization effort was established a week later.

Cheung has earlier planned to propose a private member's bill to the Legislative Council on the council's restructuring.

Task force chairman Norman Chan Tak-lam said it was inevitable that some categories would have to be downsized.

"Trade-offs have to be made," Chan said. "As the highest governing authority of the school, the council needs to deal with resources and restructuring, among others. There must be appropriate checks and balances, and external members must outnumber those within the school management."

The proposal also suggested that the number of seats for Legislative Council members on the CUHK body be reduced from the current three to two.

Asked whether the proposal aims to reduce political interference, Chai said it is not a bad thing to have lawmakers on the school council, as they could help the publicly funded institution with securing funding for projects such as infrastructure development.

"I hope that people don't see the proposals as a conspiracy theory," he told reporters. The task force suggested that Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu would continue to appoint top council members, including its chairman, vice-chairman, and treasurer. The CUHK vice-chancellor and provost must be endorsed by 66 to 75 percent of the council.

In the interest of downsizing the council, the task force suggested one council seat for a representative elected by the convocation, down from the current three.

Four members should be appointed by the council, down from the current six, at least one of whom should be a CUHK alumnus or alumna.

The task force agreed on one seat each for representatives elected by undergraduate students and postgraduate students respectively.

To successfully downsize the council, while ensuring communication between it and the colleges, other measures should be taken. For instance, inviting college heads to attend council meetings as observers instead of full members.

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