Chaos and violence during Chinese University of Hong Kong’s council meeting
Security guard injured during scuffle with protesters and students demanding a review of system that says chief executive is default chancellor
Chinese University’s governing council agreed yesterday to organise a seminar on whether the city’s leader should continue to be the chancellor of public universities by default, after violence broke out when angry student activists tried to storm the meeting.
About 50 students and protesters from outside the university – some wearing black masks – clashed with security guards at the venue at Bank of America Tower in Admiralty at 5pm, before the meeting started.
In the chaos that followed, a security guard suffered an injury to his right eye which drew blood.
The university condemned the violence and the presence of outsiders, confirming that the injured guard had received hospital treatment.
The trouble ended only after university vice-chancellor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu and council chairman Norman Leung Nai-pang agreed to discuss protesters’ demands and allow two student representatives to join in.
But protesters continued to besiege the venue and tried to stop council members from leaving in the middle of the meeting.
After 3-1/2 hours of discussion, council member and lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan said the governing body had decided to set up a committee in charge of organising a seminar. Governance experts, staff and students would be invited to attend and discuss whether the chief executive should continue to automatically serve as chancellor.
The committee would submit a report to the council after the seminar, and the council would discuss whether to set up a task force for further discussion based on the report, she said. The government would also be informed.
“Many council members felt it necessary to discuss the issue right now, even though we understand that changing the university ordinance cannot be handled only by Chinese University,” Wong said.
Student union president Ernie Chow Shue-fung, one of the two student representatives invited to the meeting, admitted that the involvement of outsiders in yesterday’s radical protest.
“We feel that this is not only the problem of Chinese University, but of the whole academic world,” Chow said. “When the situation has reached such an intense stage, some physical conflict is unavoidable.”
Chow said he accepted the university’s offer with regret because, beyond a one-off seminar, students wanted a task force to resolve the issue.
Students opposed to the appointment of the chief executive as default chancellor of universities are worried about government interference.