23 February 2019
Arthur Li reiterates his call on the student activists to quit school instead of just skipping classes. Photo: HKEJ
Arthur Li reiterates his call on the student activists to quit school instead of just skipping classes. Photo: HKEJ

I won’t fight with kids, Arthur Li tells boycott leaders

Executive Council member Arthur Li refuses to back down on his war of words with student leaders of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), who are calling for a boycott of classes to protest against Beijing’s decision on electoral reform.

Li, a former education minister and ertswhile vice-chancellor of the university, said a class boycott is not a constructive move, and students skipping their lessons are not making a huge sacrifice, Ming Pao Daily reported.

He challenged the students to quit their university studies altogether if they want others to see their sacrifices. “However, I do not encourage students doing so,” Li added.

He made a similar call earlier in the week, saying that students planning to join the protest action might as well quit school and give way to those who want an education.

In an open letter, the CUHK student union denounced Li as a “shame” of the university, and demanded his apology.

But in his reply, Li described the student union as a group of adorable kids, and said he would not engage in a fight with children.

However, he insisted that the students address him as professor, not just as “mister” in their open letter.

“If I am a professor, I would be happy the students have class boycott as I would get a day off,” Li said.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students is calling for a city-wide boycott of classes on Sept. 22 to protest against the central government’s restrictive proposal for universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election.

Responding to Li’s latest tirade, CUHK student union president Cheung Sau-yin said the official does not deserve the title of professor as his comments were far from constructive. Cheung also said he has given up on having a dialogue with Li after hearing his latest comments.

CUHK vice chancellor Joseph Sung said he would respect Arthur Li’s freedom of speech and would not comment on his views.

Sung said boycotting classes is already a sacrifice as students are giving away an opportunity to study. He said he is confident that students would carefully consider the price of doing so.

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