University of Hong Kong cuts ties with student union, hours after Carrie Lam expresses anger at motion backing man who stabbed police officer

  • In a strongly worded statement, the school said it would welcome a national security investigation into the student leaders, and would look at whether they should be expelled
  • Lam said she felt ashamed of the institution, and added that law enforcement agencies should ‘follow through’ if they need to enforce the law
South China Morning Post |

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The University of Hong Kong has taken down all the posters and banners displayed on the ‘democracy walls’ around campus. Photo: SCMP / May Tse

The University of Hong Kong has cut ties with its student union and will investigate those who passed a resolution “appreciating the sacrifice” of a man who stabbed a policeman before killing himself .

In a strongly worded statement on Tuesday, the university also said its management would create a dedicated team to coordinate and handle student affairs, to make sure normal student activities were not affected.

“The University of Hong Kong once again strongly condemns the serious misconduct of the Hong Kong University Student Council for blatantly whitewashing violence, challenging the moral bottom line of our society, and damaging the reputation and interests of the entire HKU community,” the statement read.

“The university hereby urges students to uphold rationality and proper values, focus on their studies and make contributions to society.”

HKU student leaders quit following motion ‘appreciating the sacrifice’ of the July 1 attacker

The statement was issued hours after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the university should follow up on the student leaders involved in endorsing the controversial resolution last Wednesday, even though they had apologised and withdrew the motion.

In April, the university distanced itself from its student union, reasserting control over the body’s facilities and cutting off its access to financial services. This was after Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, lashed out over the union’s criticism of the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she found it ‘infuriating’ that students at the University of Hong Kong had paid tribute to the man who stabbed a policeman before killing himself. Photo: SCMP / Sam Tsang

In the statement, a university spokesman said it no longer recognised the current role of the student union, as an independent registered association, on campus.

“[The university] will solemnly conduct an investigation into the incident concerning the student council in accordance with university procedures and, based on the investigation outcome, take action against the students concerned,” the statement said.

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Lam, who is the university’s chancellor, earlier said she was ashamed of the institution as its students had paid tribute to a “cold-blooded attacker who attempted to murder a policeman”.

The controversial motion was passed last Wednesday by 30 representatives of the university’s student union council, but in a quick U-turn, the union’s executive committee apologised and stepped down after pressure from HKU’s management. The Security Bureau and the city’s education minister also condemned the resolution the following day.

At the time, Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, chairman of the university’s governing council, said he would welcome a national security investigation into the student group. The university’s management would look at whether members of the student council should be expelled.

Leaders from the University of Hong Kong student union apologised and resigned after they earned harsh criticism from the institution and the government for officially mourning the death of the attacker who knifed a police officer. Photo: TVB News

In a media briefing before a weekly meeting of the Executive Council, her de facto cabinet, Lam was asked if the matter should be put to rest, now that the student leaders had backed down.

But Lam said it could not because “it was not just the union” which was involved.

She added: “The council consisted of representatives from various student bodies in the university, and it passed a motion on such a cold-blooded incident … and almost paying tribute to the [assailant], this was very infuriating.

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“Whether as the chief executive, as chancellor of the university, or as an ordinary citizen, I am very angry about this, and a bit ashamed of this university, where a student council had done something like this.”

She also said the university’s actions should not stop law enforcement agencies from looking into whether any unlawful act was involved.

“It is up to the university to decide what action to take,” she said. “If, to enforce the law, the police force believes that there is room for follow up action to be taken, I agree that law enforcement agencies should follow through.”

Lam said she would not interfere with the action of the university or law enforcement agencies.

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