Students of Lingnan University will begin “occupying” the school grounds to demand the administration take action over pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho’s earlier remarks about “killing” Hong Kong independence advocates.
At an anti-independence rally on September 17, rural leader Tsang Shu-wo said onstage that pro-independence activists should be “killed.” Ho shouted “without mercy” into his microphone, though later said that he uttered “a wrong choice of words” in the heat of the moment.
Last week, students organised a march on campus and submitted a petition with 800 signatures. It demanded that the school openly condemn Ho’s comments, clarify that they have nothing to do with the school, investigate any misconduct by Ho, and refuse to let him onto the campus before an apology is made. They also threatened to occupy and storm the campus if no satisfactory reply was given in three days.
“Lingsulate,” a new group formed after the march last week to unite students from different faculties and halls over the recent developments, said that they will begin the occupation at 12:30pm Tuesday and will request a dialogue with the school: “We hope more from Lingnan University can join us.”
The group said the school did not make a public response to the petition and merely repeated that Ho made the comments in his personal capacity, and will not comment or condemn. “We are deeply displeased with the school avoiding responsibility and tolerating Junius Ho’s attitude.”
On Tuesday, black banners were seen across different locations on campus, bearing slogans such as “Kick out demon Ho, defend Lingnan.” The Lingnan University school emblem was also covered in black.
Lingsulate will also hold a student forum on Friday to discuss Ho’s comments, freedom of expression and the guidelines for using the Democracy Wall notice board in light of the controversy over pro-independence banners on university campuses that emerged last month.
Blacked out Lingnan logo pic.twitter.com/5l9BC8GJeq
— Sam Crane (@UselessTree) October 3, 2017
Rally ‘legal and reasonable’
On Monday, Ho posted on Facebook a response to the calls that he resign. He said that it was admirable that students actively took part in social affairs, but “they must clarify the movement’s nature and direction, and not be misled and used by people with other intentions.”
Ho then said that the rally last month was held under “legal and reasonable” circumstances. He said the theme was opposing independence and removing pro-democracy professor Benny Tai – referring to attempts to remove the University of Hong Kong professor from his teaching position. Tai was a co-organiser of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
Ho added that the rally did not advocate violence and said that “kill without mercy” meant “a denial of Hong Kong independence.”
He accused the media of creating “white terror” with biased reporting which “gave no mention of Tai’s crimes.”
“Junius Ho’s ‘917 Remove Benny Tai’ event came from a place of conscience and it is in accordance with the law. How can the students have reason to condemn? And how can they ask Junius Ho to resign from the Lingnan University governing council?” he asked.
He added that the comments in question were not made on campus and had nothing to do with the university. Applying the University of Hong Kong’s argument that school’s have no right to interfere with lecturer’s actions outside of the classroom, he said: “How can the school have the power to interfere with what a council member says outside of the school and pursue the matter?”
Ho said that he welcomed a dialogue with the students, but said that it must be held in an orderly manner and conducted with mutual respect.