HKU’s decision may lead to crisis: ex-student leader

A former student representative of the University of Hong Kong’s governing council on Wednesday questioned how the institution can unilaterally decide it no longer recognises the students’ union, warning the move could lead to a “constitutional crisis.”

Lei Tsz-shing said the decision means students’ voices may no longer be heard, since the union also nominates students to sit on various university committees that are concerned with student welfare.

He also noted that the HKU Ordinance states that both the students’ union president and the council of the union have a role to play in the selection of members of administrative bodies, including the HKU senate and the disciplinary committee.

HKU’s announcement on Tuesday came after Chief Executive Carrie Lam urged the university and the police to take action against student leaders who had passed a motion expressing sadness at the death of a man who stabbed a policeman on July 1.

The union had already withdrawn the motion and apologised.

“Basically it’s a constitutional crisis. [The university] can’t unilaterally not recognise a law. If [the students’ union] can’t participate in the university’s administration, it’s not the union that will be affected, but ordinary students,” Lei said.

Meanwhile, executive councillor and barrister Ronny Tong told Commercial Radio that the incident could head to legal proceedings, claiming the motion fulfils all the criminal elements of promoting terrorism.

Tong said the stabbing of the officer was an act of terrorism and by thanking the perpetrator for his “sacrifice”, the students were saying he did something good for Hong Kong, which could breach the national security law or other laws.

The withdrawing of the motion after a short period of time could, at best, be used as a mitigating factor, the senior counsel said.

DAB lawmaker Horace Cheung, who is a member of the university’s court, said the students need to understand what they did was outrageous, adding that they had been ignoring “friendly advice” from the university.

For the status of the union to be restored, he said students would need to demonstrate that they are rational and hold moral values.