Law Lecturer Quits Hong Kong University Council Over Union Ban

Eric Cheung says the university shouldn't be retaliating against students who have resigned and apologized for a motion supporting a suicide attacker.
By Gigi Lee, Emily Chan, Wanessa Law, Cheng Yut Yiu
Law Lecturer Quits Hong Kong University Council Over Union Ban A member of the University of Hong Kong student union cleans the Pillar of Shame, a monument commemorating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, June 4, 2021.

A law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong on Thursday resigned from its governing body in protest after the university management cut off ties with the student union and banned former committee members from campus.

The university said it was taking back facilities previously used by the union and cutting off ties with it over a motion commemorating a man who stabbed a police officer outside Sogo department store before killing himself.

The motion was later retracted and the committee members apologized and resigned, but all those who attended a July 7 committee meeting that made the statement have since been barred from the university.

Law lecturer Eric Cheung said on Thursday he had resigned from HKU's governing council, dismissing the university's claim that the statement had posed "legal risks."

"I really don't think there were any legal risks," he said. "So the students did something, which may or may not constitute a crime, but at any rate they haven't been charged with anything yet."

"In the past, if students were involved in a criminal case, then that was their business."

"Why are they stripping away their right to be students?" Cheung told local media.

The council said on Wednesday that students who attended the July 7 meeting would be barred from its premises, services, and facilities.

On July 1, 50-year-old Leung Kin-fai stabbed himself to death after knifing a policeman outside the Sogo department store.

Officials have warned that anyone visibly mourning or sympathizing with his death could be breaking the national security law, and are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

The union passed a motion on July 7 saying it "appreciated [Leung's] sacrifice."

'A political lens'

Social activist Mak Hoi-wah said the ban on the students was a little extreme.

"A lot of incidents seem to be being dealt with very harshly nowadays, and seen through a purely political lens," Mak said. "But an educational institution shouldn't be attacking its own students, who are young."

"It's unfair that this incident was politicized and escalated to such a high level," he said.

Former student union leader Cheung Yiu-fai said there should be a rigorous process to be gone through under HKU's charter before a student can be expelled.

"The university has given these students no right to a defense, and have just issued this hasty decree," Cheung said. "There has been no respect whatsoever for the rights of these students."

The ban on former union members came after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called for action against the union, after which national security police raided the union office on July 16.

Corruption charges not pursued

Prosecutors have said they won't pursue corruption charges against Cantopop singer Anthony Wong and former pro-democracy lawmaker Au Nok-hin in connection with a 2018 election rally, after supporters posted evidence that pro-China politicians had also offered performances for supporters at election events.

Wong, 59, performed two songs during Au's campaign for a Legislative Council (LegCo) by-election that Au later won.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) had earlier claimed that "providing others with refreshments and entertainment at an election" was corrupt conduct and constituted a serious offense.

Prosecutors said they would offer no evidence in support of the charge.

Au is already in jail on a protest-related public order charge, and is awaiting trial for "subversion" under a draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from July 1, 2020 after he took part in a democratic primary in the summer of 2020.

Wong performed a song about remaining true to oneself on his release to journalists outside the court. He has been bound over for 18 months, meaning that he is expected to show exemplary behavior during that time. Au was also bound over, but remains in jail.

Hong Kong's High Court has meanwhile granted bail to activist and barrister Chow Hang-tung, of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China that organized the now-banned candlelight vigil for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

Chow, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting others to illegal assembly, must report regularly to a police station and is unable to leave Hong Kong. She will face trial on Oct. 5.

Tiananmen vigils banned

The CCP has long banned any kind of public commemoration of the 1989 protest movement and the massacre by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that ended it on the night of June 3-4.

Now, it appears the ban will be effectively extended to Hong Kong.

The Alliance announced on Wednesday that its June 4, 1989 museum had gone completely digital, and was now available online, curated by Germany-based journalist and writer Chang Ping, after the Alliance fired all of its Hong Kong-based staff for their own protection on July 10.

"I hope to use this project to tell people all about the survivors of the June 4, 1989 massacre ... which has set the pattern for the China we see today," Chang told RFA. "It's not just about history, but about the state of the world today."

The move comes after commentators denounced the Alliance's real-world memorial exhibit in pro-China media as being in breach of the national security law.

A Hong Kong resident surnamed Ho said the CCP is trying to rewrite history.

"History happened, but some people want to revise that history," he said. "It may even be illegal to talk about June 4, 1989 now, and they are no longer approving applications for the vigil."

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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