A group of students who stormed a University of Hong Kong (HKU) council meeting on Tuesday have apologized and promised a calmer protest movement.
The apology was issued by the student union which said it will remind students to remain calm in future protests, according to Ming Pao Daily.
HKU vice chancellor Peter Mathieson called the students’ actions “intolerable”, adding it was regrettable that the police and the emergency services had to be called in.
Mathieson said HKU respects freedom of speech “but there must be a balance”.
Former HKU law dean Johannes Chan said the incident “is something that can be discussed” but the council should not use it to divert attention from important issues.
Chaos erupted when a dozen students barged into the meeting after the council overwhelmingly voted to delay the appointment of a pro vice chancellor, affirming an earlier decision.
Chan is widely tipped for the job after he was recommended by a search committee in November, but his prospects have been clouded by alleged attempts to oust him from contention.
On Tuesday, the council voted 12-8 to delay naming a pro vice chancellor until after a deputy vice chancellor has been appointed.
The vote came amid a rally by hundreds of students outside the meeting venue.
Law professor Albert Chen condemned the students and said anyone who prevented any council member from leaving the meeting room could be liable to a charge of false imprisonment.
Chen’s law faculty colleague Simon NM Young called the incident “unfortunate and regrettable” but said the students’ actions did not constitute false imprisonment.
Council chairman Leong Che-hung refused to comment.
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