The Leaky Dam Over the Cornerstone – Statement from Students’ Unions of Higher Institutions on the Hearing on the HKPUSU’s Democracy Wall Incident

 

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) held a disciplinary hearing on the students’ protest against the university’s trespass to the democracy wall. The sentencings are as follow:

LAM Wing Hang, past President of HKPUSU – suspension of 1 year
CHENG Yuet Ting, past Vice-President (External) of HKPUSU – community service order of 60 hours
LI Owan, student Council Member – community service order of 120 hours
HO Chun Him, MS student – expelled and shall never be admitted to any programme offered by PolyU in the future

The Students’ Unions express their strong dissatisfaction against the sentences imposed on the four students. In the disciplinary hearing, the four students were accused of “refusing to comply with orders of concerned authorities” (Article 1a) and “exhibiting conducts to the detriment of the school’s reputation”. (Article 1h), The accused, except CHENG Yuet Ting, were also blamed for “slandering, assaulting or battering University staff (Article 1a)”.

Co-governance by university and students is the cornerstone of a university, exhibited by students’ union’s full possession over the Democracy Wall. HKPUSU bears the responsibility for ensuring freedom of speech with its full possession over the Democracy Wall. The Democracy Wall allows students to criticise the University authorities, free from pressure and interference. Universities should be places for cultivating intellectuality and stimulating debate and, thus, should accommodate all academic discussions, including Hong Kong Independence. PolyU has arbitrarily swayed the management of the Democracy Wall and tampered with the rules of the Wall, forcibly changing ‘HKPUSU’ and ‘Executive Committee of HKPUSU’ to ‘Office of Student Development, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’. PolyU’s atrocities trampled the significance and meaning of the Democracy Wall and showed its nonchalant and ignorant attitude towards students’ views.

Students’ unions of higher institutions deem the sentencings are out of proportion. LAM, past President of HKPUSU, was suspended for one year while HO was suspended and barred from admitting into PolyU. Not only do the sentencings deprive the rights of the concerned students, but are also gross suppression of freedom of speech. Moreover, the absence of clear sentencing guidelines renders the verdicts highly unjust and unacceptable. The intention of the University authorities to create a chilling effect for eradicating all ‘sensitive’ views is crystal clear in this case.

PolyU, as one of the higher education institutions in Hong Kong, ridiculously adopted such barbaric student disciplinary procedures. PolyU alleged students for committing serious offences such as “defamation”, “assault” and “battery”, while no legal consultant nor personnel with legal knowledge attended the hearings. PolyU was recklessly punishing students in the name of law, without any legal basis. PolyU’s student disciplinary hearings were farces, notwithstanding its lack of respect to students, it reflects how corrupt is the bureaucracy in PolyU. Therefore, we strongly demand PolyU review the reasonableness of the verdicts and structure of the committee to deliver justice to the concerned students.

From the democracy wall incident to the disciplinary hearing today, it can be seen that white terror, brought by the regime, has been spreading among higher institutions. This hearing is likely to set a precedent for further oppression of students. Students’ unions of higher institutions reassert that we will not tolerate any suppression from the university authorities. We also encourage every one of you to pay attention to the incident and support further actions from PolyU students. Students’ autonomy must be safeguarded.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Students’ Union
The Hong Kong University Students’ Union
The Student Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
The Interim Executive Committee of The Student Union of Hong Kong Shue Yan University
The Provisional Executive Committee of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Students’ Union
The Provisional Executive Committee of City University of Hong Kong Students’ Union
Joint Student Union of Caritas Institute of Higher Education and Caritas Bianchi College of Careers
The Provisional Executive Committee of The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong Students’ Union
The Provisional Executive Council of The Education University of Hong Kong Students’ Union
Student Union of Chu Hai College of Higher Education
The Hong Kong Federation of Students
The Student Union of Wu Yee Sun College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
New Asia College Student Union, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
S. H. Ho College Student Union of The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The Student Union, United College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The Student Union of Lee Woo Sing College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Student Union, Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Shaw College Student Union, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Lingsulate

2 March 2019