Benny Tai Yiu-ting

Pro-Beijing lawmaker wants Occupy co-founder sacked from HKU post for ‘poisoning young minds’

Legislator Junius Ho calls associate dean Benny Tai ‘unfit to teach law’ due to his advocacy of civil disobedience

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 2:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 2:35pm

Pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu has called for the dismissal of a co-founder of the 2014 Occupy protests from his teaching post, saying that he is “unfit to teach” law at the city’s oldest university.

Speaking on a radio programme on Monday morning, Ho said he would write to the University of Hong Kong asking for Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who is a law professor at the school, to be removed.

“It is no longer appropriate for Benny Tai to teach at HKU given that he is teaching students how to maintain the rule of law under the spirit of advocating civil disobedience,” Ho said. “[He is] poisoning young minds ... we cannot let this happen, he needs to be removed.”

Tai has been an associate dean on HKU’s law faculty since 2000, specialising in constitutional and administrative law, according to the university’s website.

Ho’s remarks came after 22,000 demonstrators took to the streets on Sunday condemning government prosecutors for securing jail terms for young pro-democracy protesters Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang last week.

When sentencing the trio, Court of Appeal vice-president Wally Yeung Chun-kuen slammed the “unhealthy trend” in which intellectuals advocated the idea of civil disobedience. He did not name names.

Former Bar Association chairman and senior counsel Paul Shieh Wing-tai later said Tai “had a lot to answer for”, as the co-founder of Occupy Central had imposed many “unrealistic expectations” on the civil disobedience campaign, such as assumptions that there would be no violence.

Watch: Pro-democracy student leaders jailed for storming government buildings

In March, Tai and his fellow Occupy founders – Dr Chan Kin-man and the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming – were charged for their roles in the pro-democracy street protests that brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill.

The trio each face three counts related to causing a public nuisance. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail. The District Court will hear the case again on September 19.

Tai said earlier that he was willing to pay the price and expected to be jailed.

Meanwhile, Demosisto party member Agnes Chow, who also appeared on the same radio programme, accused Hong Kong justice chief Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung of “political persecution” and claimed that the purpose of the move to seek tougher punishment for Wong, Law and Chow was to make people afraid to participate in social movements.

Chow added that Sunday’s rally turnout had exceeded expectations and showed that many Hongkongers stood in solidarity with the jailed activists.