Former University of Hong Kong Students’ Union President Billy Fung was asked to leave the school’s governing council meeting on Tuesday evening after refusing to sign a document promising to guarantee the personal safety of members.
The meeting on Tuesday evening took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, after the last meeting at the school’s Sassoon Road campus ended with around 300 students surrounding council members, demanding reform. Police were deployed and a council member claimed she felt like vomiting.
Fung was seen leaving the meeting venue at around 6:35pm and refused to speak to the media, Oriental Daily reported. The HKU Council later announced that he had declined their request to sign a document requesting him not to do anything that would directly or indirectly affect the safety of meeting attendees. The HKU Council deliberated for an hour and passed a motion asking him to leave, with 13 members voting for the motion, five against, and three abstaining.
At the meeting, council member Abraham Shek said that all of them should sign the document, but another member, Edward Chow, objected to the proposal. Other members also questioned why only Fung was being asked to sign the document, but chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung merely replied with, “Your concern is noted,” Stand News reported.
Fung said that he would be made to sign the document at the beginning of every meeting, or he would be asked to leave whenever confidential matters were discussed. The student representative was earlier barred from confidential council meetings after he leaked details of a closed-door meeting which rejected the appointment of liberal scholar Johannes Chan last September.
Fung said that he had not been informed prior to the meeting that he would have to sign such a document and felt it was unfair that he could not obtain legal advice. He also said that, if he signed it, it could set a bad precedent and added that the terms of the document were vague. Fung said he would be seeking legal opinion on what to do at the next meeting.
The council stressed that asking Fung to leave was not to punish him, but rather to ensure that the meeting could run safely, smoothly and effectively.
HKU Council member and legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming said that the incident was unfortunate and that the council did not have any reason to ask Fung to leave. He said that the council should attempt to establish an effective dialogue rather than deal with the issue in an oppressive manner. He also said that there were no meeting regulations that deal with such documents of undertaking and that the move was controversial.
“Speaking as a teacher of the University, I find it very worrying that the only elected undergraduate student member of Council has been excluded from a meeting of Council,” HKU Council member Timothy O’Leary said. He also warned that the measure will “only lead to further polarisation”.
New HKU Student Union President Althea Suen criticised the decision to hold the meeting off campus and asking Fung to leave, saying that it was violated procedural justice. The HKU Alumni Concern Group also said that the behaviour was disrespectful to undergraduate students, as Fung was a representative elected by them.