Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) students on Thursday staged a silent protest at their graduation ceremony, demanding that freedom of speech on the campus be protected, RTHK reports.
The university was accused of suppressing freedom of expression after it removed banners relating to Hong Kong independence that sprang up across the university at the start of the school year.
When Norman Leung, chair of CUHK’s governing council, started giving degree certificates to undergraduates of the faculty of social science, some students wore masks with red crosses, as they stood up and held placards that read “No”, “Don’t silence me” and “Safeguard freedom of speech in academia”.
Thursday was the last time Joseph Sung, the university’s outgoing vice chancellor, officiated at a graduation ceremony.
He said the institution had gone through different challenges since he took office in 2010, from the reform of the academic structure, to campus disputes and social unrest. “I sincerely hope you will be proud of CUHK, and CUHK will be proud of you in the future.”
He said during his seven-year tenure that he experienced turmoil in society, changes in personnel and many controversies.
“There is more than one way to view things,” Sung said. He said he learned to be patient and inclusive during his tenure, adding that his decisions could not please everyone.
Sung urged students not to go to extremes when expressing opinions, “even with harsh words on the tip of your tongue, leave some unspoken. Even with the argument won, leave a door open for your opponents,” he said.
Sung will be replaced by biotechnology expert Rocky Tuan next year.
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