25 April 2019
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said student leaders who promote Hong Kong independence could be violating the Basic Law and the "one country, two systems" principle. Photo: RTHK
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said student leaders who promote Hong Kong independence could be violating the Basic Law and the "one country, two systems" principle. Photo: RTHK

Lam assails student leaders who preach independence on campuses

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said it is deeply regrettable to see some university student leaders using inauguration ceremonies as a platform to advocate Hong Kong independence on campuses, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Speaking to media before attending a regular Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam condemned the student leaders for promoting independence at university inauguration ceremonies for incoming freshmen, saying this violates the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle.

Their messages about independence were very unreasonable, the Hong Kong leader said as she vowed the government will deal with them according to law.

Last Wednesday, Cheung Yam, president of the student union’s provisional executive council at the Education University of Hong Kong, gave a speech with remarks about Hong Kong independence at a school ceremony welcoming the new academic year.

Au Cheuk-hei, who chairs the student union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), said at the school’s opening ceremony on Monday that independence should be seen as a way out for Hong Kong.

Lam said it breaks her heart to learn that talks about Hong Kong independence and self-determination have entered university campuses, noting that such speeches can create a negative impression of local universities and are unfair to other students.

The chief executive said those advocating for independence have created disagreements between students and university officials.

She urged students and university officials to speak out when inappropriate or illegal acts occur on campuses.

A few hours after Lam’s remarks, Ken Lui Lok-hei, the Baptist University student union’s acting president, said Hongkongers have to recognize and understand clearly their own identity before guarding their own city, although he did not mention independence.

Lui compared what is happening now in Hong Kong with Taiwan’s “white terror” in the 1950s, noting that authorities have been relentlessly oppressing dissidents.

After the ceremony, Lui revealed that he was aware in late August the contents of his speech had been “edited” by the university, which did not respond when he asked for a reason for its action.

On Tuesday, CUHK’s Au told a radio program that independence is an option as far as Hong Kong’s future is concerned, and the topic should be allowed to be fully discussed rather than be treated as a taboo.

Asked if Au and Hong Kong University Students’ Union president Davin Kenneth Wong would invite independence activist Andy Chan Ho-tin to visit their campuses and give a speech even after their groups are banned in mid-September, as expected, Au and Wong said they do not rule out such a possibility.

On a Facebook page, former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, who is currently vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body, questioned why some people only said they do not support pro-independence remarks instead of showing their objection to the idea.

Leung was apparently taking aim at CUHK vice-chancellor and president Rocky Tuan Sung-chi, who earlier said his university does not support Hong Kong independence.

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