Student union does a U-turn on Leung ads
The University of Hong Kong's student union council yesterday retracted the statements it made two weeks ago in a series of ads questioning the actions of then-chief executive hopeful Leung Chun-ying, with the union's external affairs secretary resigning over the row.
In a meeting yesterday, the council, the union's highest authority, unanimously voted in support of the decision to retract any inferences made in the newspaper advertisements, for which the union came under heavy criticism.
There were questions about whether the ads were politically motivated or if their placement had undergone proper procedures.
The council - which comprises the union's 15-member executive committee headed by president Dan Chan Koon-hong, and representatives of clubs and societies - was not consulted on the decision to run the ads as it was not required by the union's constitution, said the union's external affairs secretary, Harold Chiu Hei-tung.
Chiu attended yesterday's meeting and resigned from his position afterwards due to 'differences in ideologies over the incident'.
The meeting began on Saturday afternoon and ended yesterday morning, just before Leung's chief executive victory was announced.
The union spent HK$387,550 on full-page ads printed in eight local Chinese newspapers on March 12 calling on Leung to explain what happened at a dinner attended by rural leaders, members of his campaign staff and a controversial businessman known as 'Shanghai Boy'.
The union said yesterday that there was improper wording in the newspaper statement, giving the impression it was targeting one candidate. It apologised for the negative impact the incident had caused.
The union said no further explanation was needed for the phrase 'urge the central [government]'s concern' in the posting, which had worried some people. Its original meaning was to urge the central government to look at whether there were influential mainland figures meddling in the chief executive election, adding that the union would not accept any interference by Beijing in the poll.
The decision to run the newspaper advertisements was made by the union's 16-member current affairs committee, then the budget was passed by the 15-member financial committee. 'I only knew afterwards that we were going to spend so much,' Chiu said.
Some members of these two committees were also members of the council and were present at the meeting yesterday. Chiu said that some executive committee members, who were not part of the two committees, only knew about the decision after the ads were printed.
The decision to recant was contrary to president Chan's previous decision to stand by the ads, adding he was willing to be jailed for legal liabilities. He said the ads did not favour any party but aimed to uphold a 'core value' that politicians must not work with triads. Chan could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The estimated proportion of young people aged 18 to 20 who are registered voters in Hong Kong