University has always been open to all schools of thought

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 June, 2010, 12:00am

I remember the good old days at Chinese University when Charles Kao Kuen was the university's president. In those days, I was president of the united college student union.

On one occasion, a student made fun of Professor Kao with condoms, causing him embarrassment. But surprisingly, when others asked him what form of punishment he planned he replied light-heartedly, 'Why should the students be punished?'

Looking back on those events, I realise that the president we denounced on big-character posters in those days was in fact very tolerant and felt a deep affection for his students. He was not perfect in his role as president but his greatest quality was his tolerance.

The Goddess of Democracy statue that the student union wanted to place on the campus, was used to commemorate the June 4 incident.

The university authorities should not have rejected the students' application but should have discussed the matter thoroughly with them, including on the issue of pedestrian safety and the length of time the students wanted to keep the statue on the campus.

A blunt rejection was always going to backfire and inflame emotions on the students' side.

The university management should have agreed to a time limit, for example, three days to a week, and offered to deal with any issues of pedestrian safety that arose. However, the student union should also have acted in a reasonable manner and should not have made demands without consultation.

I feel that many people would have agreed to a temporary placement of the statue on the campus.

If it is to remain on a permanent basis, then the opinions of all teaching staff and students must be taken into account.

Chinese University has a strong tradition of being open to all schools of thought. As an alumni, I wholeheartedly hope this tradition is respected and maintained. It is important that the university management and student union respect all differing opinions on campus.

While fully appreciating and understanding the temperament, idealism and emotions of the university students and young people, I would like to point out that supporters of democracy must make efforts to prove that the democracy they are asking for is not a vulgar exercise which forces out other opinions.

They must respect different views if they wish to make democracy truly attractive to the public.

Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, legislative councillor