Around 50 students charged into a Council of the University of Hong Kong meeting on Tuesday night, following news that the governing body decided to uphold a decision to delay the appointment of a new pro-vice chancellor. Two council members were hospitalised in the confusion.
香港大學校委會晚上開會，港大學生會約十多名成員，在會議進行數小時後，衝入會議室，高叫口號，抗議校委會遲遲未能確認副校長人選。#香港電台 #港大校委會 #梁智鴻 #港大學生會
Posted by 香港電台視像新聞 RTHK VNEWS on Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Members of the council were not allowed the leave the meeting venue as protesting students flooded into the room. Billy Fung Jing-en, President of HKU’s Student Union, said that the council has not been defending the interests of the university. Fung said that students will continue to disrupt future meetings in order to prevent “systemic violence”.
At one point, Fung demanded the council members return to their seats in order to restart the meeting. Students shouted slogans, criticising Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, one of the council members, and calling upon the president of the council to resign.
A member of the council, Lo Chung-mau, fell down during the confusion clutching his knee. Lo said he was “pushed by someone”, but footage emerged on social media contradicting his claim. Lo said that the student’s actions were “disgraceful” and was later sent to hospital.
Another member of the council, Ayesha Macpherson, was also sent to the hospital after her vehicle was surrounded.
Ambulance call for Ayesha Lau pic.twitter.com/7kbYhvYd1H
— Kris Cheng (@krislc) July 28, 2015
Li, who was appointed to the council by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, was seen surrounded by security. Responding to the press, he questioned the students’ actions, asking: “What reasons do [the students] have to be dissatisfied? Can someone tell me whether I committed a crime? Did I kill someone or set fire to something?”
Police were called to the scene and a total of six police vehicles arrived at HKU. HKU President Peter Mathieson said that the university did not the police, and that while students might have violated school rules, they did not break the law. He added that he would not report the incident to police.
A spokesperson of the Education Bureau condemned the student’s actions, urging people to express their opinions peacefully and rationally.
HKUSU President Billy Fung invites students to meet with council members who are willing to stay and talk to them pic.twitter.com/LVCJ2sWOby
— Kris Cheng (@krislc) July 28, 2015
Following the incident, students were granted a closed door meeting with Council President Edward Leong Chi-hung, HKU President Peter Mathieson and two other Council members. According to Ming Pao, students asked Leong to promise that the council would hold a special meeting before August 1st to give a definite decision on the appointment of the pro-vice chancellor.
The demand was rejected by Leong as over half of the council members had left the meeting. Leong proposed that they will suggest a timetable for the appointment in the next council meeting, however this suggestion was rejected by the students.
Deferment sparks protests.
On Tuesday, the HKU Council, which is the governing body of the school, was set to deliberate on the decision to defer the appointment of the new pro-vice chancellor (academic staffing and resources) which was made in the previous council meeting on June 30. The council previously said that the views of the new deputy vice-chancellor’s needed to be sought before the appointment for the pro-vice chancellor could be made.
Pro-democracy scholar and former dean of law, Johannes Chan Man-mun, was reported to have been recommended unanimously by the search committee for the post. Chan considered his pro-democracy stance as a reason for the delayed appointment, criticising the decision as “absolutely ridiculous”.
In an interview with HKEJ, Chan confirmed that he was recommended by the search committee in December 2014, and the management agreed for Chan to take up the position on March 17. “The longer the incident has been delayed, the greater the feeling that there is political interference involved,” Chan said. “The council could not find a decision [to delay the appointment], and with the latest reason of ‘waiting for the deputy vice-chancellor’, the interference is very clear.”
Earlier in the afternoon, around 100 students surrounded the meeting venue, protesting against the deferral of appointment.
Lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, who represents the education sector, was also present prior the meeting to submit letters to members of the council outside the building. Ip, who was behind an alumni petition, stood with dozens of protesters including various pan-democratic legislators.
Ip’s petition totalled 2,600 signatures, including more than 1,500 HKU alumni. Prominent alumni of HKU such as former chief secretary Anson Chan, Civic Party chairperson Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, and the last colonial president of the legislature Andrew Wong Wang-fat were among the signatories.
In an op-ed by the former editor-in-chief of Ming Pao, Kevin Lau Chun-to, it was claimed that members of the China Liaison Office and the Hong Kong government rallied votes within the council in order to delay the appointment.
The HKU Council is comprised of 24 members. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying acts as the chancellor of all subsidised tertiary institutions and appoints six members. Only one-third of the members, including two student representatives, are individuals from within the university.
[清晰版] 學生衝入會場完整過程 (00:53)
Posted by Campus TV, H.K.U.S.U. 香港大學學生會校園電視 on Tuesday, July 28, 2015