• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 1:18am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Students and staff free to join Occupy Central, says HKU head

"We support freedom of speech," says Professor Peter Mathieson

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 1:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 11:11am

University of Hong Kong students and staff members are free to take part in Occupy Central and other protests, the university’s head said on Wednesday, adding that legal advice would be provided to anyone arrested during a demonstration.

Vice chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson said the university cherished freedom of speech and encouraged students to express themselves in ways that were “peaceful and constructive”.

“We support freedom of speech and we support staff and students to express opinions whether they are in favour of Occupy Central or against,” he said, adding that he would not take a side on the matter.

“We want to provide an environment where different opinions can flourish, be tolerated and be discussed.”

Mathieson urged students and staff to “behave as responsible citizens” and to respect the law.

“The main issue is to encourage [students and staff] to take responsibility for their actions.”

Help and assistance, including legal advice, would be provided by the university to those arrested, he added.

Occupy supporters plan to stage a sit-in on Central streets if the official plan for the 2017 election does not give voters a genuine choice between candidates.

Student activist groups could also rally students as early as next month to boycott classes if Beijing sets a restrictive framework for the election on Sunday.

Mathieson said the university did not force attendance. “Students obviously are free to attend or not to attend classes at any time,” he said.

But he added: “If students choose not to attend then they have to understand that they’ll be missing educational opportunities and there may be consequences of that.”

He said it was understood that some instructors were negotiating with students about the possible rescheduling of classes.

On Tuesday, the president of Polytechnic University also said its staff members and students would not be penalised if they join Occupy Central or the expected boycott of classes.

Chinese University, City University, University of Science and Technology, Lingnan University and the Institute of Education expressed similar views on boycotts.

Baptist University said it would operate normally but if students missed more than 15 per cent of their classes in any subject, they would not be able to sit the examination.



Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

- Baptist University said it would operate normally but if students missed more than 15 per cent of their classes in any subject, they would not be able to sit the examination - I see that as more a threat to one's autonomy. I have never heard of such a thing for a university for the past 15 years as a university student and academic.
I think you misunderstand Mathieson's words. They are unfaultable. “The main issue is to encourage [students and staff] to take responsibility for their actions.” This is what he said. He also "urged students and staff to 'behave as responsible citizens' and to respect the law."
The language problem of DA-J’s driver’s daughter
seems much much more widespread than is recognized
Lord Neuberger and Peter Mathieson spoke in plain English
that is largely either misunderstood or not understood
Prejudice has caused misunderstanding
of the Basic Law, the White Paper
and the idea of civil disobedience
You support freedom of speech. Do you support individual human rights? If you do then you should be condemning civil disobedience. Especially as an educator you should be a voice of reason and guidance for our young people. Occupy is taking advantage of young student's passions and encouraging them to support their cause, with lies that they are fighting for rights and freedom. With a 'peaceful' sit in? A sit in is an act of force as it encroaches on the rights of other Hong Kongers. A 'peaceful' sit in is no different. If I have a quarrel with you, I can not have a peaceful sit in in your house until you give me what I want, that is an act of force. Occupy has no moral base to exist, how can you say you are fighting for rights and then care nothing of the rights of others? They are not fighting for rights they are just a gang fighting for power, and using threats to get what they want.
Mathieson might not look like it, I didn't realize he has some basic common sense. Good one.
"We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
Winston Churchill 4 June 1940.
This was also the man in charge of the Gallipoli campaign.
As a tax payer, I object to any educational institutions to use taxpayers' money to pay for students' & teachers' legal fees who violating laws knowingly. Current proposal has universal suffrage already. it's only the nomination differences.
As a tax payer, I object to paying someone who is not democratically elected...by the people.
"In 1992 Chris Patten abandoned the policy of co-operation with China over Hong Kong established by foreign office officials. (Sir) Percy Cradock, who negotiated the original 1984 agreement with China, describes the subsequent mistakes which he believes have left Hong Kong's 6m people worse off." - Prospect Magazine (1997)
Looks the the moment has come. We shall see if Sir Cradock was correct all along.




SCMP.com Account