17 February 2019
About 300 students joined a campus rally to kick off the boycott campaign on Wednesday. Photo: RTHK
About 300 students joined a campus rally to kick off the boycott campaign on Wednesday. Photo: RTHK

HKU boycott leaders vow to fight on despite poor turnout

About 300 students joined a rally at the University of Hong Kong campus on Wednesday to mark the first day of a weeklong boycott of classes in protest of the appointment of former education minister Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as chairman of the school’s governing council.

Boycott committee member Wong Chun-kit admitted the turnout was not satisfactory, noting that students have just started their new semester and there wasn’t enough time to promote the boycott campaign, Ming Pao Daily reported on Thursday.

Wong said the committee will continue efforts to solicit more support and participation from HKU students.

As to what other actions they will take, Wong said everything depends on the response of the HKU Council.

The committee is holding a forum on Thursday to discuss the students’ demand for a reform of the University Ordinance.

It said the HKU Council itself has scheduled a meeting next Tuesday, and the students’ demand is on the agenda.

So far no members of the university faculty and staff have signified intention to join the students’ boycott campaign.

Professor Johannes Chan, former dean of the HKU Law School, said he supports the pursuit of academic freedom and the university’s autonomy.

He also said he would offer remedial classes for law school students taking part in the class boycott.

During the campus rally, former HKU Students Union chairperson Yvonne Leung Lai-kwok described Arthur Li as a “notorious scum of the education sector” and that all the crises facing the university stemmed from an unjust system and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying abusing his power.

Student representatives from the Hong Kong Baptist University, Lingnan University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Shue Yan University were also present at the event to share their views on their institutions’ councils.

Dr. Chan Chi-wang from the HKU Faculty of Science urged his colleagues to at least clearly state their stance on the issue at hand, if they are not willing to participate in the boycott.

Dr. Robert Chung, director of the HKU Public Opinion Programme, and Dr. Fu King-Wa, associate professor of the university’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, showed up at the event during their class breaks.

Both said they will upload video recordings of their classes online so that students taking part in the boycott could catch up with the classroom lessons.

Chung said he understood that many of his colleagues were in support of students’ actions.

But he said teachers refusing to teach would be seen as more aggressive than students boycotting their classes, and as such, it would be hard for the teachers to do that.

Fu said he has emailed his students and would respect and support their decision to boycott classes.

However, he said he personally thought the reform of the HKU Council would be a long-term fight, while boycotting classes may not be specific in addressing the issue.

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