University of Hong Kong quizzing student leaders over how they voted on controversial motion mourning police assailant

·3 min read

Student leaders at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) involved in passing a motion last month mourning the “sacrifice” of a man who stabbed a police officer are being questioned individually by school management as to how they voted, following the arrest of four others said to have backed the resolution.

Their responses will be taken into consideration as HKU reviews an earlier decision to ban those involved from campus, according to an email sent to student council members by the university and seen by the Post.

Thirty of the 32 student union council members present at the meeting on July 7 voted in favour of the since-withdrawn motion expressing “appreciation for the sacrifice” of the assailant, who killed himself after the July 1 attack. Two present abstained from voting.

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Last week, the president of the student union, the leader of its council and two others were arrested, later becoming the first charged with “advocating terrorism” under the national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020. The charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years.

HKU student Chris Todorovski was one of four arrested by police last week and charged with ‘advocating terrorism’ via the motion. Photo: Sam Tsang
HKU student Chris Todorovski was one of four arrested by police last week and charged with ‘advocating terrorism’ via the motion. Photo: Sam Tsang

In an email sent to student leaders on Tuesday, registrar Jeannie Tsang Wing-shi asked them to answer three questions related to the passing of the motion by Friday evening: whether they were in attendance, if they proposed or seconded the motion, and if and how they voted.

The students were also told they could supplement their responses “with any further information which you consider to be useful to illustrate your role and manner of participation in the meeting and the voting”.

Tsang added that information provided by the students would “not be used against you in [future] disciplinary proceedings”.

The Post has contacted HKU seeking comment, including whether the students’ replies would be given to law enforcement authorities.

Members of the HKU student union council publicly apologise for the motion last month. Photo: Handout
Members of the HKU student union council publicly apologise for the motion last month. Photo: Handout

The resolution, passed at a July 7 meeting of the student union council, prompted immediate condemnation from university management, the Security Bureau and the city’s education minister.

Within hours, the motion had been withdrawn and members of the union council apologised and stepped down.

Despite the withdrawal, the university severed all ties with the student union after city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged school management to take further action. Earlier this month, the university’s governing council followed that up by banning the student leaders from entering the campus or using its services and facilities.

Critics had raised concerns over the decision to ban the students from campus, noting it had sidestepped normal disciplinary procedures, leading one member of the governing body to resign.

Hundreds of HKU alumni as well as seven members of the university’s court, a body tasked with creating and amending school statutes, subsequently signed a petition demanding the university to revoke the punishment.

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