The president of the University of Hong Kong student union Althea Suen Hiu-nam, said she had strong feelings about students being accused of “having hidden agendas and forgetting about history” after hosting an alternative forum on June 4. She disputed the allegations.
The student union did not attend the annual candlelit vigil in Victoria Park as it opposed the organisers’ stated purpose of “building a democratic China”, and instead hosted a forum at the HKU campus on “Hong Kong people’s identity after the Tiananmen massacre”. About 500 students attended the forum on the 1989 crackdown.
Suen previously embroiled in controversy after she questioned whether commemoration events for June 4 “based on patriotism” needed to come to an end for students, as it may not help with the future of Hong Kong – an important issue over the next few years.
Before the discussion session at the forum on Saturday there was a moment of silence for participants to mourn the dead.
Althea Suen said on Commercial Radio on Monday that the minute of silence was indeed needed for some participants to express their sadness, to recall the memory or to pay tribute to the victims.
“The format was different, and our way of thinking was probably different – some organisations or some people may mourn the dead from a point of view as a [Chinese] compatriot, or based on patriotism, that is fine – but it was not the aim of our event,” she said.
“Instead [our event] was from a local Hong Kong people’s point of view,” she added.
She said that participants of the forum understood that students hosting alternative June 4 events did not mean to forget about history or the work previously done by other people.
“Instead we think that – other than the previous framework [of commemoration] – there something else that we could achieve,” she said. “On that day people indeed tried to learn there, and they were willing to be open and listen to others’ opinions.”