An HKU Council member has expressed concern that a “culture of violence” might have sprouted in Hong Kong and could spread to hospitals and courts after a student protest at a council meeting last Tuesday. He added that politics had driven many people “crazy” and made them “unreasonable”.
Last Tuesday, some 50 students forced their way into a council meeting opposing its decision to postpone the appointment of a pro-democracy scholar. The decision is considered by many as a sign of political interference in academic affairs. Billy Fung, President of HKU Student Union, said that students were “opposing [systemic] violence with force.”
Lo Chung-mau said in an RTHK programme on Sunday that the idea of “opposing violence with force” was common in mainland China, and wondered whether a “culture of violence” had sprouted in Hong Kong. Lo, who is a doctor, said, “Will people be charging into Queen Mary Hospital and assaulting a doctor someday?”
He added that violence had apparently become an issue in the courts. “Some people even went so far as to slam judges. I really don’t know if they would storm and occupy the court one day,” said Lo.
Lo made headlines when he fell and sought medical attention during last week’s student protest. He called students “lawless” and said he was kicked by someone, but footage later emerged contradicting his claim of being pushed. The public has accused him of faking the collapse and shifting the blame onto students.
Lo modified his remarks two days later, saying that he had never said he was pushed by students. But he insisted that students were in the wrong. He added that another council member, who was also hospitalised, felt “insulted” and “traumatised”. Lo said, “The whole of Hong Kong should send a strong message to the students that they had wronged. If students are never in the wrong, they will never learn.”
He also accused a doctor who was present at the scene of refusing to help him. “I saw a doctor and wanted to ask him to persuade those blocking me to leave, but his reaction was, ‘it’s none of my business’,” Lo said. “Why must there be political struggles? Politics has even made a doctor forget his mission to save people. This saddens me a lot.”
But footage shows that a doctor, who was there as HKU alumnus, asking people to leave. The doctor, Au Yiu-kai, told TVB that he was surprised by Lo’s accusation. “How could he say that? I went up to him wanting to offer help, and tried to disperse the crowds. I believe I’ve fulfilled my duty as a doctor.”
Lo said that politics had driven some Hongkongers—including people affiliated with HKU—”crazy” and made them “unreasonable”. He added that two political forces had turned the council into a “political stage”.
Lo has previously criticised those who prevented him from seeking medical attention after he fell down. He later said that people were not justified to call him a “disgrace”, because he was injured and had worked hard for the meeting.
He said that the members had met for four hours prior to the intrusion of student protesters. “We weren’t even provided with sandwiches,” Lo said. “I’ve done so much, why did people still call me disgraceful? I was injured and needed to go to hospital. Some blocked my way and said I was disgraceful. In what way am I disgraceful?”
A commentator maintained that criticisms from students are probably aimed at his handling of the saga, which is a separate matter to his injuries.
Fellow council member and microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung, who resigned in the aftermath of the protest, said that students had stepped aside to let Lo pass on that night. He said that those who swore at council members did not appear to be students as they seemed older.
Lo supported Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s electoral campaign in 2012. He has also publicly criticised last year’s pro-democracy Occupy protests on multiple occasions and signed a petition that called Occupy “a cancer cell” of Hong Kong. He has also signed a petition in support of Beijing’s ruling on Hong Kong’s controversial electoral reform proposal, saying that young people were in no position to comment on the proposal.
In 2013, Lo opposed the appointment of HKU President Peter Mathieson, highlighting Mathieson’s foreigner identity as evidence that he was “ignorant, incompetent and insincere”.
Although Lo disagrees that the delay of the appointment of a new pro-vice chancellor indicates political interference, many believe the delay was because of the pro-democracy stance of the candidate, Johannes Chan Man-mun.
The popular former dean of HKU’s law faculty has confirmed that he had been unanimously recommended for the pro-vice chancellor post by the search committee in December 2014. He criticised the decision to postpone the announcement as “absolutely ridiculous”.
As the governing body of the university, the HKU Council is comprised of 24 members. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying acts as the chancellor of all subsidised tertiary institutions and directly appoints six members. Only one-third of the members, including two student representatives, are individuals from within the university.