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Hong Kong Baptist University protest

Hong Kong student who was disciplined over Baptist University’s mandatory Mandarin requirement launches legal challenge against suspension

Chinese medicine student Andrew Chan said he had been subjected to ‘procedural unfairness’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 August, 2018, 7:31am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 August, 2018, 7:31am

A Baptist University student who was disciplined for taking part in a protest against the Hong Kong school’s Mandarin language graduation requirement has launched a legal challenge to overthrow the decision.

Chinese medicine student Andrew Chan Lok-hang said in a judicial review application filed to the High Court on Friday he had been subjected to “procedural unfairness” when the university’s Student Affairs Committee upheld a disciplinary panel’s decision that his behaviour had violated school rules.

The applicant is now seeking a court order to quash the decision, as well as cover legal costs.

“I have not been fairly treated at all, I believe I have sufficient justification for the case, so I hope to seek justice,” Chan said.

The controversy centres over a protest involving Chan and other students, who had stayed at the school’s language centre for eight hours in January, despite repeated requests to leave the centre, according to the writ.

The disciplinary panel said Chan “threw a tantrum at the centre with intimidating gestures towards the staff”.

The school suspended him for eight days and required that he serve 40 hours of community service on campus and write an apology letter.

Chan decided to lodge an appeal to the Student Affairs Committee to overturn the punishment, but in May the committee said the original hearings were “conducted fairly”.

The writ argued the committee had “erred in its decision”.

It also said the disciplinary panel had “breached procedural fairness” by failing to disclose all materials to Chan during the hearing and failing to tell him of the particulars of the allegations made against him.

A total of 16 documents were presented to the panel but only eight were given to the accused students, the writ said.

Under such circumstances, Chan was “deprived of the right to know what evidence has been given … and a fair opportunity to correct or contradict them”.

How a compulsory Mandarin course caused chaos at Baptist University

The courts have traditionally been reluctant to intervene in a university’s internal matters or disciplinary actions. In 2001, the High Court turned down a judicial review application by student Leung Chak-sang who was disciplined by Lingnan University. The judgment argued that the disciplinary decision was private between school and student, although Chan argued British courts had ruled that the court can intervene.

A similar position was affirmed as the High Court turned down the judicial review application on University of Hong Kong governing council’s refusal to appoint legal scholar Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro-vice-chancellor.

A Baptist University spokeswoman said that it was not appropriate for them to comment as the case had already entered judicial proceedings.

Additional reporting by Alvin Lum