Students' behaviour at HKU council meeting abhorrent

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 5:06pm

The students' siege of the University of Hong Kong Council meeting on July 28 has attracted considerable public attention.

As an alumna, I found the students' violent disruption of the meeting and the delaying of the injured being sent to hospital for treatment abhorrent.

The council is the legitimate body to take the decision on the matter of the appointment of the pro-vice-chancellor. So long as it has duly followed the prescribed rules of procedures in the conduct of its business, it is not up to anyone to interfere with its work, be it students, staff, alumni or politicians.

This is a proper way to respect institutional autonomy since the council is the supreme governing body of the university. Students can stage protests or sit-ins to express their dissatisfaction with council decisions, but they should not take such uncivilised action as to storm a meeting.

What exactly did they want to achieve? Does it mean that any time people make decisions with which they do not agree, they should react by barging in to stop proceedings?

If individual council members seek to exert pressure on the council by promoting the views of outside individuals/groups to reverse the corporate decision to be made, how can governance work effectively?

The uncivilised actions of the students that night were deplorable. I understand that it is difficult for people to remain rational when they were in a highly charged situation, and that when a big crowd gathers, things can easily get out of control.

It was, however, very disturbing to me when the student leader, Billy Fung Jing-en, tried to rationalise the students' behaviour, which led to a delay for injured people to be given proper treatment, by saying that they had no other options but to storm the meeting.

I am deeply disappointed with this lack of ability to practise some critical self-reflection - a basic attribute which any responsible member of society should have.

The bedrock of a civilised society is respect for the law and due process. If we stop the proceedings every time people made a decision with which we do not agree, what kind of a world will we live in?

If as adults we breach the code of what is acceptable behaviour, we should admit our wrongdoing and rectify it, but not try to find excuses for that behaviour.

Y. L. Lee, Kwai Chung