City University is latest to leave Hong Kong Federation of Students

Student ballot makes union the fourth to leave group that was key Occupy organiser

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 2:55am

City University's student union has become the fourth union to vote to leave the Federation of Students, which played a leading role in last year's Occupy protests but which is now seeing its prominence wane.

The decision by CityU students, sealed in a ballot on Wednesday night, is the latest departure to hit the federation, the city's oldest and most politically influential student group, which has historically represented students at eight universities.

The poll outcome was a great setback, as the federation now could not rightly assert it "stood for the majority of students", its deputy secretary general, Alan Wong Ka-fai, said.

"It is a reality that we must accept," he told RTHK yesterday.

The series of exits started with the University of Hong Kong's student union, which voted to leave the federation in February. Since then, Polytechnic and Baptist universities followed suit within a day of each other late last month.

Their disaffiliations came in the aftermath of the 79-day Occupy protests, during which university students complained the federation acted too hastily and failed to consult them.

The CityU poll drew a turnout of 3,236, with 2,464 voting to break away, 527 voting to stay and 174 abstaining. A bag of ink found in one of the ballot boxes contaminated seven votes, which were later ruled invalid.

Chinese University, the University of Science and Technology and Shue Yan University are the remaining members along with Lingnan University, which voted in an earlier referendum to stay in the federation.

Wong said the federation would have to devote less time to social activism in the coming year and focus more on internal reform, as those who left cited the group's lack of transparency as one of their grievances.

But CityU student Tang Sheung-fung, who initiated the breakaway on campus, argued that student activists could be more effective outside the federation structure.

"Now that the students need not belong to - and be hijacked by - any big student organisation I am sure they will be more devoted in the struggle" for democracy, he said.