Controversial honors

Olivia Chavassieu
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‧ Do you agree with the activists? If you were against Tang receiving his honorary doctorate, what would you have done?

‧ Do you agree with the Nobel jury to bestow on Obama the Nobel Peace Prize?

Refers to:

Activists disrupt Tang's doctorate ceremony

by Elaine Yau, South China Morning Post, December 11, 2009

Four activists sidestepped security staff and stormed onto the stage during a ceremony conferring an honorary doctorate on Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen at Chinese University in Sha Tin, disrupting proceedings for five minutes.

The disruption occurred as Professor Laurence Wong Kwok-pun was reading the citation for Tang, who received an honorary degree along with scientist and former Chinese vice-premier Dr Song Jian and 2008 Nobel chemistry laureate Professor Roger Yonchien Tsien.

Brandishing placards criticising the government, the four activists walked across the stage slowly. Other activists, one of whom was dressed in Chinese University graduation garb, rushed at the same time towards the stage from the middle rows of the audience but were stopped by security guards in front of the stage.

Tang and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who was also present, remained poker-faced throughout the disruption.

The four on stage were then escorted away by other guards.

They were part of a 20-strong group which had come together through online social networking site Facebook.

Year Two sociology student from Baptist University Julian Yeung Wing-yan, who is the un-named group's spokesman, said two activists distracted security staff while the four stormed the stage.

"One of the four on stage was a Chinese University student," he said.

He said Tang was undeserving of the honorary degree.

"He didn't support democratic political reform, [he] allowed the business sector to maintain their prerogatives and let the yawning rich-poor gap remain," Yeung said.

He accused Chinese University of being intolerant of dissent.

"We intended to disperse once we expressed our message on stage, but the security staff hurt two of our members. One had his shirt torn and the other received a bloody abrasion on the neck."

Thomas Tsang Chiu-wai, one of the four escorted offstage and a former editor of Student Press who was embroiled in a controversy over the publication of articles containing sexual references in 2007, said he was pulled off the stage forcefully.

"They tore up my shirt," he said.

In response to the disruption of the ceremony, Tang said Hong Kong was a diverse society that respected differing views. "But we encourage everybody to express their views in a rational and peaceful manner," he said. He said he was grateful for the acknowledgment of his work by the university.