Students sorry, but stand firm on protest

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2007, 12:00am

Student protesters yesterday apologised for the disruption at Chinese University's graduation ceremony on Thursday but stood by their action against the decision to confer an honorary doctorate on former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.

Denny To Chun-ho, spokesman for the group Lawrence Lau Monitor, who co-organised the protest, said they were sorry if students had been affected by their actions.

About 20 students protested, carrying red flags, shouting, blowing whistles and trying to force their way onto the stage. Scuffles broke out when security guards tried to remove them. They also criticised what they said was the university's poor leadership under vice-chancellor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee.

But the protesters should not be blamed for everything, he said.

'The senior management of CUHK should have expected that there would be protests during the ceremony after making such a ridiculous decision to award the degree to Mr Tung.' He felt the protest was necessary for students and the public to hear what they had to say.

'The designated protest area was way too far from the stage. Our protest during the ceremony was less than an hour, which took up a small part of the entire ceremony.'

A spokesman for Mr Tung's office said students who wanted to express their views could arrange talks with him through the university.

During the RTHK Talkabout programme, a female caller surnamed Lau branded the students shameful. 'I think they have totally ruined the ceremony. They should have respected the right of other students' to attend the graduation ceremony'.

But another man said: 'We shouldn't target the students. I think the university should also be held responsible. The local universities have awarded so many honorary doctoral degrees since the handover and they have become very cheap now.'