The vice-chancellor of Chinese University has pledged help to pay for the legal appeal of a student sentenced to jail for disrupting a public consultation forum in September.
Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu posted an open letter on his Facebook page yesterday saying he would support Daisy Chan Sin-yin, 23, a student of government and public administration and also general secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.
Chan was sentenced to three weeks in jail for disorderly behaviour for disrupting a forum on a proposal to scrap Legislative Council by-elections. Also convicted were League of Social Democrats lawmaker 'Long-Hair' Leung Kwok-hung and three other activists. All five defendants have filed appeals.
'I am convinced that she [Chan] certainly acted without selfishness but out of a concern for Hong Kong and the solicitude for democracy and human rights,' Sung wrote in reply to an open letter by a group of students. They had urged the university to step in to support the convicted students.
Sung wrote: 'When it becomes necessary, I will provide financial assistance in my own name to support her [Chan's] litigation. I will also request teachers in the Government and Public Administration Department, as well as the University Dean of Students, to offer help.'
Young people engaged in social movements 'might sometimes be given to radical actions and activities'. Sung also asked students to 'keep their activities peaceful, non-violent, and within the law, as they continue to express their demands, and struggle for social justice'.
Also convicted was Tang Kin-wa, 22, of Lingnan University. Tang said yesterday that the president of Lingnan University, Professor Chan Yuk-shee, told him last week that the institution would help him with legal costs if he needed it. Tang replied that he had a lawyer and would apply for legal aid, so he did not need help.
The president of Chinese University's student union, Johnson Yeung Ching-yin, said the student body strongly welcomed Sung's pledge to help Chan. It 'would be a bonus', he said, if Sung would take the further step of helping Chan officially on behalf of the university, as well as issuing a statement to the public on how the university regarded the issue.
Samuel Li Shing-hong, general secretary-elect of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, urged more university chiefs to back students facing political prosecutions.