The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) has urged the public not to view its students as a problematic lot just because some offensive posters made their way onto the so-called democracy wall on the campus.
The university is looking into some incidents pertaining to malicious messages on campus posters, EdUHK officials said, adding that they will handle the matter as per established internal procedures.
Appearing on a radio show, university council chairman Frederick Ma Si-hung called on people not to tar the EdUHK student community due to “isolated incidents” on the campus.
In any case, it is not known if the university students were to blame for the vicious posters or some outside persons were behind the incidents, he said.
EdUHK pupils are of very high quality and are passionate about their academic work, Ma said, calling on people not to rush to conclusions on the issue of controversial posters.
He added that he hopes that society would understand that “politics is politics and education is education”.
The comments came as the university was trying to determine the identities of people who had put up “congratulatory” messages last week for the Undersecretary for Education, Christine Choi Yuk-lin, over the suicide of her son.
The mocking of the senior government official during a time of personal tragedy has caused shock and outrage among the public, with many people calling for the “culprits” to be expelled from the university.
Ma cautioned that one cannot jump to the conclusion that EdUHK students are to blame. In any case, they should be seen as isolated incidents and one should not implicate the entire student community, he said, according to Apple Daily.
“I don’t want the education sector to perceive that there are problems with all students at this university,” he said. “For the sake of our next generation, we really should not petition for anything.”
The remark came as Legislative Council member Ben Chan Han-pan had pushed for a petition that calls for the tracking down of the student responsible for the offensive messages and expel him or her.
Chan said the matter should be treated seriously as it involves a problem of moral standards.
Speaking on the same radio show, EdUHK President Professor Stephen Cheung Yan-leung said the university would definitely try to find out who had posted the slogans although they would not call the police.
Even if the school has found out who posted the slogan, they would not judge the case before they fully understand the motives and reasons for the student’s actions, he said.
Apart from the poster mocking the deputy education chief Choi over her son’s suicide, university authorities were looking into another offensive material that appeared on the democracy wall.
In that second poster, someone made light about the death of mainland dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Cheung said the university will not adopt double standard in dealing with the two posters, one of which is suspected to have been put up by a Hong Kong democracy activist and the other by a pro-Beijing individual.
The person who had posted the posters about Liu had done so in the middle of the night, with CCTV footage showing someone wearing a big hoodie and a cap.
The university immediately notified the Student Union but had not waited for a reply before removing the posters.
The student union denounced the malicious messages, but sought to defend the poster activity in the name of freedom of speech, drawing further criticism from others.
Following the controversy, university officials were reported to have received emails from some school principals that they wouldn’t hire EdUHK graduates for some time.
Union president Lala Lai Hiu-ching, meanwhile, has demanded that EdUHK apologize for leakage of CCTV footage and lack of protection for the students.
The student unions of 13 local universities and tertiary institutions have jointly signed a statement condemning Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for starting a witch-hunt over campus banners and posters.
In the statement they said the posters that appeared in CUHK in relation to Hong Kong independence were not against the law in Hong Kong.
They criticized CUHK authorities for taking down the posters, calling it a violation of free speech rights.
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