Hong Kong university student leaders quit following motion “appreciating the sacrifice” of the July 1 attacker

  • Following backlash from the public, the former student union president resigned and said it was not his intention to encourage illegal acts
  • Some have expressed concern the initial action may have violated the national security law

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The HKU student union came under fire for a motion to "appreciate the sacrifice" of a man who stabbed a police officer before killing himself. Photo: SCMP/Nora Tam

University of Hong Kong student union leaders quit on Friday and apologised following criticism for passing a motion that “appreciated the sacrifice” of a man who stabbed a police officer before killing himself.

The motion, which the union’s president Charles Kwok Wing-ho called “extremely inappropriate”, sparked a furious backlash and prompted suggestions it may have broken the national security law.

Reading out a letter of apology during a press conference at the university’s Pok Fu Lam campus at 1am, Kwok, who was flanked by a dozen members of the union’s executive committee and council, said they had failed their peers and Hong Kong in general.

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“Our feelings [over the resignation] are complex,” Kwok said. “The incident has developed to this point and has brought much influence to all students. We have also failed what our predecessors have built up.”

He added that it was not the student council’s intention to encourage illegal acts, and the entire executive committee and most council members would resign with immediate effect.

“The union, as a servant to HKU students, does not promote unlawful behaviour,” Kwok said. “The union acknowledges the severity of the event and remains cautious about its responsibility to students, to the university and to society.”

The crime scene outside Sogo in Causeway Bay after a man stabbed a police officer on July 1. Photo: SCMP/ Xiaomei Chen

While the former president insisted they made the decision to resign themselves, he would not say whether there had been any pressure from the university to do so, or if police had contacted them about the resolution, which was passed by the student union council on Wednesday.

Kwok would not say if he and the others were concerned that they may have broken the Beijing-imposed security legislation.

The students’ apology came after a day of tough words from the university piled the pressure on them.

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Earlier on Thursday, Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, chairman of the university’s governing council, told the SCMP that HKU had reported the case to national security authorities, signalling it wanted punitive action taken.

But Li, who is also a member of the city’s Executive Council, and a university spokesman later clarified they had not asked the authorities yet, but meant the institution would welcome any investigation.

“They [union council members] are basically supporting violence and the attack on July 1, so we should let relevant authorities look into whether the new security law has been violated. They have to be held accountable for what they have done,” Li said.

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