The Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) Students’ Union will launch a protest march on campus on Friday, calling on the university bosses to revoke the temporary suspension of two students who had been involved in a campaign against mandatory Putonghua proficiency tests.
The union argues that the punishment meted out to the duo — student union president Lau Tsz-kei and Andrew Chan Lok-hang, a fifth-year student at the HKBU School of Chinese Medicine — is uncalled for as the university is yet to complete an investigation into their alleged wrongful behavior.
According to an announcement by the union on Thursday, an assembly will first be held at the school’s Jockey Club Courtyard at 2 pm, followed by a march to Shaw Tower at the the university’s Shaw Campus in Kowloon Tong.
Students’ Union president Lau Tsz-kei, one of the suspended pupils, said he expects to see more than 100 students participate in the protest, Apple Daily reports.
Student unions of several other universities, including the University of Hong Kong, the Lingnan University, the Education University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, have expressed support for the HKBU students.
Meanwhile, some HKBU alumni also said they would join the protest to support the students.
A HKBU spokesperson said the university respects students’ right to express their opinions, calling on them to behave peacefully and rationally and abide by the law when doing so.
The planned protest march by the students comes after Roland Chin Tai-hong, HKBU president and vice chancellor, announced on Wednesday that Lau and Chan have been barred from classes with immediate effect as they breached code of conduct by making teachers feel insulted and threatened.
Lau and Chan, along with roughly a dozen other students, stormed into the university’s language center on January 17 to protest the lack of transparency in relation to a Putonghua course exemption test.
Last year HKBU started to require students to pass the test so that they can be exempted from taking the Putonghua course, which is a requirement for graduation.
The students opposed the Putonghua proficiency test as a graduation requirement and criticized its lack of transparency. They asked the university to abolish both the course and the test.
During a protest action last week, a group led by Lau barged into the language and staged a sit-in. Video clips showed Lau and Chan shouting agitatedly at some female staff during an eight-hour occupation of the facility, with Lau even heard using abusive language.
Students were angry that a suspension order was issued before a disciplinary hearing is held.
It is understood that five of the protesting students, including Lau and Chan, were asked to attend the hearing, which is scheduled for mid-February.
At a press conference on Thursday, Chan revealed that he has received a letter from the school, which contains accusations pertaining to interfering with teaching, research and administration, improper behavior, as well as assaulting or harassing staff.
He dismissed the charges, claiming that he did not swear at or touch any staff member during the protest action last Wednesday, and accused the authorities of exaggerating the incident.
Lau, meanwhile, apologized once again for his attitude during the protest and for using foul language on that day. But he insisted that he did not intimidate any HKBU teaching staff.
Asked about his opinion on the controversy, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said using foul language against teachers is totally unacceptable.
The senior government official declined to comment when asked for his view as to how HKBU should deal with the matter.
Education Secretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung called the incident distressing and said he hopes society will understand that HKBU needs to be given space to handle the matter as it deems appropriate.
- Contact us at [email protected]