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A rioter gets ready with bricks, as fires burn during clashes between protesters and police, in Mong Kok in February 2016. Hong Kong cannot rest easy in the belief that protests are always peaceful in the city. Photo: AP

Benny Tai is abusing freedom of speech in Hong Kong, and HKU should rethink his tenure

To many,  Benny Tai Yiu-ting may seem to lack common sense when he invites people to consider  Hong Kong independence in the future. Indeed, his words have provoked many Chinese patriots, including myself.
Mr Tai simply relies on the freedom of speech guaranteed by our  Basic Law as his excuse, but he is blatantly abusing the freedom of speech. 
From a moral perspective, he is being irresponsible in peddling the  idea of separating Hong Kong from mainland China. We have seen violence arising out of independence campaigns around the world: take Northern Ireland, where the IRA caused great bloodshed. 
Two years ago, we in Hong Kong experienced the  Mong Kok riot, where radicals threw bricks at police. This could have cost lives. Bear in mind that it was a violent protest with Hong Kong independence advocacy.

Four things Benny Tai should know about ‘free speech’ and the clash of freedoms

Now people are gravely concerned, as Tai is still an academic, a tenured professor at the University of Hong Kong. Every day, he could be encouraging his students to learn the wrongful idea of Hong Kong independence. More importantly, what if our next generation is incited to practise independence advocacy on all fronts? 

Independence and separatism will bring about hatred, hatred will incite violence

The riots and bloodshed we see happening elsewhere, unfortunately, would erupt here. We can’t simply comfort ourselves with the belief that Hong Kong is always peaceful and our people do not agree with radical protests. 

When independence claims blossom in the city, things will change, the culture will change; independence calls and separatism will bring about hatred, hatred in turn will incite violence, and violence will lead to casualties, which could be interpreted as so-called “sacrifice” to fortify the independence movement. 

Finally, this is a vicious circle, as we have witnessed in many other jurisdictions. Hong Kong will not be spared their fate.


For this reason, the public has taken the view that Tai is no longer suitable for tenure at HKU.

The university certainly enjoys autonomy, it is the  call of the university, but we do hope the management will hear the voice of the people and take appropriate action before the problem takes its toll.

Holden Chow, Legislative Council member, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong 

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: HKU should rethink tenure of separatism peddler Benny Tai after his abuse of free speech