|The events between 6th and 29th January, 1999|
The Vice-Chancellor said that he "definitely briefed my colleagues (the Pro-Vice-Chancellors) about the meeting with Mr. Lo"54 and that this might have been done at a Senior Management Team ["SMT"] meeting shortly after the conversation55. It is of some importance to establish when this was done.
In January, 1999 the SMT meetings took place on 7th, 21st and 28th - there was no meeting on 14th. There is no minute of any mention of this matter at any of those meetings. That in itself is of little moment as the meetings were semi-formal and Mrs. Kwan, who kept the minutes, did not take a note of everything that was said. She, however, said that it was logical to think that it would have been mentioned on 7th January56, the day after the meeting and the Vice-Chancellor agreed with that57.
The importance of establishing the date of this mention arises because Professor S.L. Wong, who only attended the meeting on the 21st January, 1999, said in his witness statement made on 5th August, 2000 that:
"In January 1999, the Vice-Chancellor gave a brief report during a regular meeting with the Senior Management Team (SMT) comprising of all the Pro-Vice-Chancellors on the visit by a member of the Office of the Chief Executive. He did not reveal the identity of the visitor. He mentioned the main concerns expressed by the visitor.
Firstly, on whether the polls conducted by Robert Chung were done in his own capacity or in the name of the University.
Secondly, on whether the University monitored Robert Chung's polls.
And thirdly, on whether there was conflict between Robert Chung's role as pollster and his role as political commentator, particularly as Robert Chung had submitted a document to Mr. C.H. Tung with recommendations on political development.
In the meeting, members noted these views but did not discuss them in detail as the Vice-Chancellor did not raise them as part of a formal agenda.
After the SMT meeting, I decided to talk to Robert Chung because of several reasons ...." This version squarely placed the information as having been given at that SMT meeting.
Professor Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor in charge of Administration and Registrar of the University, was able to throw some light on this matter. He was present at SMT meetings on 7th and 28th January.
He said that at one of these meetings, he thought that it was the earlier one, the Vice-Chancellor had said that a Mr. Lo Cheung On from the Chief Executive's Office had visited him and "had expressed some concerns about the monitoring, the quality and the impartiality of the opinion polls being carried out in the POP programme"58 (Emphasis supplied).
He said that there was no real comment but that one Pro-Vice-Chancellor, he thought that it was Professor K.M. Cheng, said, "Well that is a problem for the CE's office. That is not a problem for the University."59
Professor Davies was however wrong in thinking that this comment came from Professor K.M. Cheng at the meeting on 7th January as Professor K.M. Cheng was not present at that meeting.
This illustrates the fallibility of human memory, a factor which we have borne in mind throughout.
Professor K.M. Cheng is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor in charge of Human Resource Development and Alumni Networks. He has been a Pro-Vice-Chancellor since 1st July, 1997.
He said that he was unable to remember anything about a visitor from the Office of the Chief Executive being mentioned in any of the meetings that he attended in January, 1999 but he said that in late 1998 or early 1999 he "developed the impression that the University was under very unfavourable considerations by either the Government or even people who are near to the Beijing Government."60
It is important to note that he was not at the meeting on 7th January.
We shall return later to the evidence of Professor K.M. Cheng.
Professor S.L. Wong evidence's that the mention by the Vice Chancellor of Mr. Lo's meeting with him was at the SMT meeting on 21st January 1999 would, given the evidence of Professor Davies, mean that the Vice-Chancellor canvassed the matter at 2 SMT meetings, an unlikely possibility given that it was only mentioned in passing for information.
By the time Professor S.L. Wong came to be cross-examined by Mr. Fung S.C. he had rethought his evidence as to the time when he was told by the Vice-Chancellor of the visit by Mr. Lo.
He said61 that, having heard the evidence of his colleagues, he decided to go back to the meeting notes, both of the SMT meetings and his own meetings with the Vice-Chancellor, and that he had now decided that the information was most likely imparted to him at an informal meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, Mrs. Kwan and Mr. Wai on 27th January, 1999.
Difficulty with this adjustment arose, however, when Mr. Wai gave evidence as he said: "I have heard Professor Wong's statement, evidence, and he mentioned that it was possible that the visit from the CE's office, that gentleman's visit, was discussed in the 27th January 1999 meeting. I do not think so. I am pretty sure that if the details were indeed discussed, I should have minuted that."62
The only other evidence on this matter came from Mrs. Kwan who said that she "very vaguely"63 remembered mention of a "special visitor from the CE's office" at an SMT meeting when the Vice-Chancellor said that the person "visited him in his office and he raised concerns about supervision, about role conflict and so on." She said that she did not make any minute of this matter.
We are satisfied that mention was made of the visit at the SMT meeting on 7th January, 1999 or much less likely on 28th January, 1999.
We are satisfied that it was not mentioned at the SMT meeting on 21st January, 1999 as Professor Davies was not present at that meeting.
In view of the evidence of Mr. Wai we are satisfied that the visit was not mentioned at the meeting on 27th January, 1999.
We are left then without any evidence as to when it was that the Vice-Chancellor told Professor S.L. Wong of the visit and as to what was said on that occasion.