Hong Kong localism and independence

Former student chief in Hong Kong punished for ‘Chee-na’ tirade

Ernie Chow was filmed arguing with mainland students, who he said had tried to cover up other people’s messages on the campus ‘Democracy Wall’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 11:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 5:28pm

A former student union chief at Chinese University has been punished by his college, for a filmed fracas in which he used an anti-mainland slur, the college revealed on Friday.

Ernie Chow Shue-fung, who used to be CUHK student union president, got a strike against his disciplinary record and was ordered to do 40 hours service at the university.

Chow used the word “Chee-na” – a derogatory name for China – and other foul language during a heated argument on September 7, with mainland students who had tried to cover up posters on campus in support of Hong Kong independence.

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The row happened during a weeks-long free speech saga on many Hong Kong campuses, during which pro-independence banners were variously put up, torn down or covered by people from either side of the debate. Physical confrontations also broke out.

Chow said previously he used the slur after mainland students ignored union rules against covering up other messages on the campus “Democracy Wall”, and accused them of swearing at people.

Soon after the film of the exchange was posted online, CUHK “severely condemned” the use of such “insulting” words and said it was investigating the incident.

On Friday the university’s governing council had a meeting during which it discussed how CUHK handled the independence poster saga.

At that meeting, according to a source close to the council, the student discipline committee of New Asia College, where Chow is in his fourth year, told members that Chow had received a removable demerit on his record and 40 hours of college service for using foul language against others on campus.

Another source, close to the college’s student discipline committee, said the committee did not single out the use of “Chee-na” in the investigation.

Chow said on Friday he had just learned about the committee’s action and would “actively follow up on it”. There is an appeals process.

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A committee member, who declined to be named, said the demerit with the service order was too harsh a sanction for using foul language. He said he did not understand why the case, an internal college matter, was raised before the council.

But CUHK council member Jonathan Ho Kai-ming, also a lawmaker with the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, called the sanction reasonable. He said he hoped students had learned a lesson and would stick to reason and good manners in future debates.

A spokesman for CUHK said it would not comment on individual matters, adding that New Asia College had its own procedures for handling student discipline.