Date
16 January 2017
Benny Tai has written a letter (inset) to HKU's governing council, accusing it of penalizing him unfairly for his role in the 2014 Occupy movement. Photo: HKEJ
Benny Tai has written a letter (inset) to HKU's governing council, accusing it of penalizing him unfairly for his role in the 2014 Occupy movement. Photo: HKEJ

Benny Tai slams HKU move but decides against legal challenge

Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai said he will not seek a judicial review on the decision by the Hong Kong University’s governing council to punish him over donations handled by the professor.

Although he is unhappy at the council’s move, Lai said he won’t mount a legal challenge as he does not want to hurt his beloved university.

Tai, an associate professor of law at HKU, handed Ming Pao Daily a copy of the three-page letter that he had submitted to the university council chairman Leong Che-hung a few days ago.

In that letter, Tai criticized the council’s disciplinary actions against him, saying that he was being penalized for taking a leading role in initiating the pro-democracy Occupy movement last October.

The council’s decision was politically motivated, he said, adding that his point of view will prevail if a judicial review is conducted.

“There is reasonable suspicion that some members of the Council made the decisions on ulterior political motives. The decisions are made to ‘punish’ me for initiating the ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’, a civil disobedience movement to strive for genuine democracy in Hong Kong,” Tai wrote.

The professor however said that he won’t seek legal recourse as he doesn’t want to inflict damage to the university. He called on the council to show similar understanding.

The letter came after the HKU is said to have ruled that Tai cannot receive any more donations and that he cannot assume any managerial roles for three years.

Tai argued that the council is only a “general power” under the University of Hong Kong Ordinance, and it does not have the power to punish teaching staff.

Hence, the council’s decision to punish him was illegal, he said.

“The decisions mean interference with academic freedom. I am punished for acting civilly in the community to advance values and goals which are also the educational aims of the University,” Tai wrote in the latter.

“The decisions may also pose unnecessary pressure on other teachers of the University deterring them from participating in social actions in their capacity as academic or citizen.” 

However, due to “my love for the University of Hong Kong I am not prepared to apply for judicial review against the decisions by the Council,” Tai wrote.

Leong, meanwhile, declined to respond to Tai’s letter, saying that he will make a comment only after a council meeting.

Former dean of law Johannes Chan, who has also received a letter related to donations, said he will not accept the letter as the decisions by the council were without legal ground.

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