Professor Roland Chin Tai-hong, president and vice-chancellor of the Hong Kong Baptist University, pledged to do his best to ensure that the two HKBU students arrested by police on Tuesday would receive fair treatment, adding that the university would give them appropriate support.
In an open letter to HKBU students, staff and alumni issued on Wednesday, Chin urged people from all sides to remain calm as he called on the government and law enforcement authorities to positively respond to public concerns over the incident.
Chin was invited by students to attend an on-campus rally on Wednesday evening to show support for Keith Fong Chung-yin, president of the HKBU students’ union, who was arrested in Sham Shui Po on Tuesday night for possession of offensive weapons after police found him carrying a plastic bag containing 10 laser pointers. Fong told police the laser pointers were for “star-gazing”.
The arrest sparked clashes between hundreds of protesters and police officers outside the Sham Shui Po police station later that night, with the latter firing tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Chin, who visited Fong at the hospital shortly after his arrest, revealed that another HKBU student was arrested near the police station on the same night.
During the rally, students asked Chin whether he would condemn the police’s use of excessive force, Chin only said he is not a lawyer and that any violence should be condemned, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Asked whether he thought buying laser pointers was against the law, the university head said he saw nothing wrong with buying them, although using them could present a problem.
The students voiced dissatisfaction with his answer. Chin then said he cannot think of a solution to the current unrest in Hong Kong, although he believes having a dialogue is a better way than fighting.
As Chin was leaving the venue later that night through a back door, some of the rallyists chased him and tried to stop him.
Meanwhile, at least 46 current and former members of the HKBU teaching staff signed a petition condemning the police for arresting Fong and spreading “white terror”.
On Wednesday night, hundreds of people gathered outside the Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui for what was billed as a star-gazing event.
They pointed and waved laser pointers at the building’s dome to express their solidarity with Fong. Some played music while the crowd clapped their hands, turning the gathering into a concert-like event.
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