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Chinese University will stick with its previous crest. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

Chinese University of Hong Kong ditches new crest week after outcry from lawmakers over redesign

  • University spokeswoman confirms switch back to previous version but does not explain reason for move
  • Redesign was unveiled last Monday ahead of 60th anniversary of university’s founding next year, but quickly drew fire
William Yiu

Chinese University of Hong Kong has gone back to its earlier crest after a redesign unveiled a week ago drew criticism from lawmakers, who accused the institution of poor governance.

A university spokeswoman confirmed the move on Monday but did not give a reason for the change.

“The university council will have a meeting on Tuesday and we will announce the latest development, if there is one,” she said.

The redesigned crest was unveiled last week. Photo: Handout

The now-shelved emblem featured a golden phoenix on a purple background. The redesign retained the colours and symbol of the old version, but no longer halved the shield to apply the purple and gold in a reversed format.

The new crest also came with a “simplified version” for use on social media platforms, which removed the university’s motto written in four Chinese characters that stated: “Through learning and temperance to virtue.”

The redesign was unveiled last Monday ahead of the 60th anniversary of the university’s founding next year. It marked the fourth time the crest had been changed since 1964.

Redesigned university crest sparks debate between alumni and Hong Kong lawmakers

Rocky Tuan Sung-chi, the university’s vice-chancellor and president, last Wednesday insisted the revamped crest would appear more striking on a variety of media platforms than the previous one.

But some lawmakers, who also sit on the institution’s governing council, had said they were shocked to discover the city’s second-oldest university had updated its emblem, accusing it of removing elements fundamental to Chinese culture without conducting a consultation beforehand.

“It treats us as if we, the governing council, are dead,” legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan earlier said, as he accused the university of a lack of transparency over the change.

Chinese University will revert to the previous version. Photo: Handout

Cheung said he was not told which design company was involved, the reasons behind the modification or how much it would cost to implement.

But the lawmaker on Monday said he would only comment further on the matter after the council meeting the next day.

Bill Tang Ka-piu, a fellow legislator and council member, said he welcomed the restoration of the old emblem, as it would give the university’s governing body more time to discuss whether any changes were needed.

Tang also accused the institution’s management of making decisions behind closed doors without consulting the council first, adding that members could decide who was responsible for the move after hearing a report on the redesign.

CUHK students get green light for new union, vow to stay clear of politics

Former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying, who was among those who had previously hit out at the university, also weighed in last Tuesday, accusing Tuan of treating the institution as if it were his own.

Two days after the adoption of the new design, Tuan said that the university had received “valuable feedback” from staff, students, alumni and the public.

“It is our sincere wish to take the time to inform you of the rationale for the brand refresh, to understand your concerns, and to familiarise you with its use,” he said while the newly designed emblem was still in use. “This means that we will not rush the changes.”

The university council consists of 59 members, which include top management and academics. The body also features “laymen” from outside the campus, including three seats set aside for legislators. None of the lawmakers hold a position on the body’s 10-member executive committee.