Readers will know well that over the past twelve months the University of Queensland (UQ) has been plunged into local and international infamy by its corrupt relationship with the local Confucius Institute and Chinese Consulate. Most pointedly, the universities’ reputation has been destroyed by its treatment of Hong Kong protestors (and one formerly obscure student named Drew Pavlou). A scandal that has reverberated worldwide, with condemnation ranging from the Australian Parliament and Supreme Court to the cover of the Wall Street Journal and just about everywhere in between.
The key (mis)manager of this debacle is UQ vice-chancellor, Peter Hoj, who should long ago have been brought to account for bringing the university into global disrepute, ironically the very charge brought unfairly against Drew Pavlou, who’s only crime was to arrange a full 13-person strong protest in support of HK freedom:
But, today, The Australian reveals that instead, Professor Hoj is the frontrunner to head the University of Adelaide (UA) as it reels from a collapse in overseas enrolments and its own corruption inquiry:
Professor Peter Hoj is in talks with the University of Adelaide to replace outgoing Peter Rathjen, who quit due to ill health this month amid an ongoing investigation into his conduct by the Independent Commission Against Corruption…
He returned UQ to surplus by driving up overseas student numbers…
One source told The Australian that UA was unfazed by the criticism Professor Hoj had faced over the past two years after it emerged that the Chinese government had co-funded four courses in Chinese foreign policy, language and music while Professor Hoj was serving as an unpaid consultant to the Confucius Institute…
We are quite lost for words.
Is Australia a now a failed state in which tin-pot dictators maraud across captured economic segments with impunity? What on earth is UA thinking? How does it hope to clear the air of past indiscretion by attaching itself to the stink of the far larger UQ scandal? It will drag on for years longer, pursued by anti-CCP freedom-fighters across the political spectrum. By doing so, UA only confirms the very rotten culture it is supposed to be addressing.
UA also has a Confucius Institute. Is it pushing for the recruitment of Professor Hoj? The University should be closing the Institute as eminent Sinologists have insisted, not thinking about strengthening it.
As the world faces the reality of what a dangerous bully China is, the normatives of engagement with the CCP are shifting swiftly from the business-kowtowing of Professor Hoj. Just last week Professor Hoj was insisting to UQ students that the University’s “long-standing and productive relationships with China” did not “influence teaching decisions or censor freedom of speech on campus” while conceding that “our” engagements with China are now seen by a growing number through a different lens.
UA should look to the future and a clean-skinned reformer capable of navigating these new realities. If it cannot do this alone, the SA Government should step in and do it for it.
South Australians, all Australians, deserve no less.