Explainer: HKU and #BlockadeSassoon
The HKU governing council controversies continue as Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, the school's newly appointed chairman, was besieged by students during a class boycott at the Sassoon Road campus after hosting his first council meeting.
Chaos at the University of Hong Kong's Sassoon Road campus erupted last night, sparking the social media tag #BlockadeSassoon. Here's a breakdown of what happened:
4:30pm: HKU students, boycotting class, gathered at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Building for Interdisciplinary Research at the Sassoon Road campus—where the council meeting took place.
5-7pm: Security limited entrance of the campus area to HKU students only and tried to move them to another demonstration zone further away from the building. More students flocked to the campus area to support one another amid the cold weather.
8pm: The council voted down the immediate setup of a committee to review the university’s governance. About 200 students started to surround the building and its car park, demanding a face-to-face conversation with Li and other council members.
8:45pm: Li tried to leave from the building’s main entrance and was surrounded by students demanding an explanation of the council's decision. Li refused and stayed inside the building.
9-10pm: Police arrived and tried to evict the students outside the building. One of the council members, Leonie Ki Man-fung, claimed to be sick and requested an ambulance. Students accused her of abusing ambulance services.
12-1am: More policemen arrived at the car park and some started pointing pepper spray at students. Li used this as a diversion and left the building from another exit at 1am.
1:30am: HKU vice chancellor Peter Mathieson spoke to the students for about 30 minutes. He said he and Li agreed to meet the student representatives in 10 days.
How did Arthur Li manage to become one of the most hated persons in HKU? Here are some of his comments regarding students and faculty members:
—“Those students who participate in political confrontations are not the ones who are gifted academically; instead they are just trying to be heroes and impress their girlfriends and other people.” -April 2015
—“For faculty members, it’s easier to give their opinions on TV or radio channels instead of sitting down and writing a research or scholarship proposal. That’s why I think people take the easier way out instead of doing their job. They collect their paycheck but escape to an island of fantasy.” -April 2015
—“At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China, the Red Guards’ actions were not as over-the-top as they were later. But this [the blockade] is like how they started the whole revolution.” -August 2015
—“If just because you shout loudest, just because you have banners, you can influence [his appointment], this is very bad for Hong Kong… Somebody has to draw the line—we don’t want mob rule in Hong Kong.” -January 2016
—“Sadly, this small number of students are rather like someone who’s taken drugs, who’s been poisoned by drugs. And they’ve been manipulated.” -January 2016