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Hong Kong Baptist University protest

Baptist U lifts suspensions on student pair involved in Hong Kong campus protest

University chief Roland Chin says the decision was made following ‘sincere’ personal apologies from student union president Lau Tsz-kei and Chinese medicine student Andrew Chan to teachers involved

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 4:04pm

Two Baptist University students who were suspended over alleged threats to staff during a stand-off on campus over a Mandarin language requirement have been allowed to resume classes.

The latest twist came a day after the publicly funded university said it would review the suspension following personal apologies from student union president Lau Tsz-kei and Chinese medicine student Andrew Chan Lok-hang to the teachers involved on Tuesday.

Hong Kong Baptist University students apologise to teachers as ‘deadline’ to lift suspensions looms

In an email sent to students, staff and alumni on Thursday, university president Roland Chin Tai-hong said students affairs director Gordon Tang Yu-nam had decided to lift the temporary suspensions with immediate effect after meeting with the two students and also with the language centre’s staff.

“After the two students met with teachers and staff of the language centre to offer their sincere apology in person, the director of students affair arranged a meeting with both of them, at which they undertook not to commit the same mistakes again,” the email read.

“The director of students affair then met colleagues of the language centre and confirmed that they accept the students’ apologies.”

Chin said Tang considered that the conditions for the temporary suspension under the student disciplinary procedures were no longer valid.

How a compulsory Mandarin course caused chaos at Hong Kong Baptist University

Lau and Chan were among 30 students who stormed the school’s language centre two weeks ago, demanding the university end a Mandarin requirement needed to graduate.

They were also demanding greater transparency for a test that exempts students from the course after 70 per cent of those who took the exam failed.

Lau was filmed during the stand-off using foul language towards a staff member.

Tensions between Lau and Chan’s supporters – including students, alumni and even some staff – and university officials flared last week when Chin announced the pair were suspended before disciplinary proceedings concluded, citing fears that the students posed a danger to staff.

Students must stop blaming their woes on the rise of Mandarin

But Chin stressed the formal student disciplinary procedures would go ahead as scheduled.

“Punitive action is not our goal. Education is. I trust that the two students’ repentance is genuine and that they cherish this second chance and have learned from their mistakes,” Chin said.

He also reiterated that the school “always respect students’ rights to voice their opinions in a peaceful and rational manner” and would continue to discuss with the university regarding the Mandarin course and exemption test.

The announcement to review the suspensions – a softening of the management’s stance – on Wednesday also coincided with an ultimatum the students issued to the school during a protest against the suspensions on Friday that drew 300 people. They said they could escalate action if the suspensions were not lifted.