The Federation of Students has disaffiliated itself from the pro-democracy organiser of the city’s annual vigil and march to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown. In a meeting of the city’s oldest and largest student body’s standing committee early this month, committee members from four member universities made the decision to quit the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. They also decided to depart from the Civil Human Rights Front, the organiser of the annual July 1 march. IN PICTURES: The first July 1 march since the Occupy movement The federation was a founding member of the alliance, which was formed in 1989 to support the student pro-democracy movement in Beijing, which ended in a military crackdown. It has since held a vigil in Victoria Park every year. But over the past few years, some Hongkongers, including the federation, have been unhappy with the alliance’s formality and staged ceremonies elsewhere. Last year, for the first time, the federation did not participate in the vigil. Standing committee chairwoman Hillary Tjhan, also external vice-president of Shue Yan University’s student union, said on Sunday night that the idea of quitting the alliance and the front had developed for a year. Students attending in the federation’s annual general meeting in March showed general support for the decision to quit. The final decision was made by the standing committee in a meeting early this month. Tjhan said: “The federation [being] an association of student unions [of four member universities], should not join any other organisations such as the alliance and the front.” She said there was also an opinion that the federation should not support one of the alliance’s creeds “to build a democratic China”, but focus on the democratic development in the city. HK$3 million crowdfunding campaign for June 4 memorial museum Alliance vice-chairman Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong said the group received a letter from the federation about its withdrawal a few days ago. He said the alliance felt it was a pity, but would respect their decision. Tsoi said the federation’s participation in the mainland student movement had drawn concern and support from Hongkongers. The influence of localism had recently spread to the student unions in local universities, but it was hard to say how much its withdrawal was related to this localist trend, he noted. City University is latest to leave Hong Kong Federation of Students He believed the group’s recent internal issues may have led to its decision to focus more on local issues. Tsoi was referring to how four member institutions left the federation after students from the University of Hong Kong, Polytechnic University, Baptist University and City University voted for their student unions to disaffiliate from the group to display their disapproval of the federation’s performance in leading the Occupy protest in 2014. Tsoi believed the alliance’s ability to pursue democracy would not be weakened by the federation’s departure because it had an operational system and was supported by the public.