Date
22 October 2019
Rifts in the society can be healed if all parties are able to reach out and engage in constructive dialogues, a university chief said, after Hong Kong witnessed unprecedented protests over an extradition bill. Photo: Reuters
Rifts in the society can be healed if all parties are able to reach out and engage in constructive dialogues, a university chief said, after Hong Kong witnessed unprecedented protests over an extradition bill. Photo: Reuters

University chiefs urge dialogue amid extradition bill conflicts

The heads of several universities in Hong Kong expressed concern over the recent events in the city in the wake of the extradition bill controversy, and called for dialogue between the government and the protesters.

In a statement on Wednesday, University of Hong Kong (HKU) president and vice-chancellor Professor Zhang Xiang said he was “disheartened by the violence that occurred” in the Legco building and that he denounces destructive acts.

Zhang pointed out that while Hong Kong is facing a difficult situation, he still firmly believes that “people with different viewpoints can coexist in a state of civility, and that the rift in the society could be healed if all parties are able to reach out and engage in constructive dialogues, with a readiness to seek common ground and compromise for the greater good of Hong Kong.”

Professor Kuo Way, president of the City University of Hong Kong, said in a separate statement that he hopes various parties can exercise restraint and conduct rational discussions.

Kuo said he expects the government to communicate with people from various sectors sincerely and open-mindedly so as to contain the disgruntled mood in society.

Among other university chiefs, Hang Seng University president Professor Simon Ho Shun-man said confrontations or violence cannot resolve the present stalemate.

The government and various stakeholders should seek reconciliation in a pragmatic way and start dialogues for the future of Hong Kong, he said.

Advising students to cherish life and respect rule of law, while protecting their safety and that of  others, Ho said he hopes everyone will safeguard Hong Kong’s core values.

The comments from the university chiefs came after the Legislative Council building was ravaged on Monday by some radical demonstrators who were unsatisfied with the government’s continuing reluctance to respond to their demands.

The demands include complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, retraction of the categorization of the June 12 incidents in Admiralty as a riot, and release of all those arrested during the protests.

Separately, Reverend Paul Kwong, the archbishop of Hong Kong’s Anglican church, and two bishops issued a letter on Wednesday wherein they wrote that it is saddening to see violent incidents in the city.

The religious leaders criticized the protesters who broke into the Legco building and caused damage to the facilities, saying such acts are unacceptable.

People should solve problems with a peaceful and rational attitude, they said.

At the same time, they called on the government to take action to respond to protesters’ demands, make efforts to rebuild mutual trust and enhance communication.

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TL/JC/RC