Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen has criticised Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s decision not to attend the congregation ceremonies for any of Hong Kong’s ten universities and higher education institutes.
Traditionally, the chief executive, who also serves as the chancellor for all Hong Kong universities, will attend at least two such occasions.
In 2013, Leung was confronted with a procession of students’ crossed arms and downward thumbs when he attended the congregation ceremony of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
Student unions at several local universities have organised non-binding referendums on whether the chief executive should retain leadership of the territory’s tertiary institutions.
Ip, also an alumnus of the University of Hong Kong, suggested to Ming Pao that Leung may wish to avoid potential protests since he is aware of his unpopularity amongst local students.
However, Ip said that Leung, in his capacity as chancellor, should attend important events such as congregation ceremonies: “Even if he cannot attend all of them, he should attend some in one year and then go to other schools the following year.”
Leung has not fulfilled his duty, Ip added.
Five local institutions have held their congregation ceremonies recently, including the Academy for Performing Arts, Baptist University, City University, Polytechnic University and Lingnan University.
At the Lingnan ceremony on Monday, around 30 students flew paper planes at the main stage to protest Leung’s chancellorship and his appointment of several new Council members considered pro-Beijing.
Lingnan students also placed white roses upon the stage and in front of university president Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon, symbolising their desire to elect Council members themselves and their hope that teaching staff and students will not be subject to threats or intimidation due to their politics.
Earlier this month, Lingnan professor Dr Chin Wan-kan revealed that he had received a letter from Cheng warning him that his vocal support for localism had hurt the reputation of the university and that he should “mind [his] words” or else “suffer the consequences.”
The University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Science and Technology, Institute of Education and Open University of Hong Kong will all hold their congregation ceremonies in either November or December.