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Goddess statue for CUHK campus `at all costs'

Beatrice Siu

Friday, June 04, 2010

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The Students' Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has said it will defy the authorities and erect the Goddess of Democracy statue on its Sha Tin campus "at all costs."

On Wednesday, the university rejected the students' application to permanently display the statue and a tablet marking the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen crackdown because it "must maintain its principle of political neutrality."

Union president Eric Lai Yan-ho said: "No matter how, we will send the statues into the campus or else we will stay until we can get in.

"If the university insists, it has to take responsibility [for what happens]."

Lai said the union may stage an overnight sit-in.

The two pieces by US-based New Zealand artist Chen Weiming have become symbols in Hong Kong's fight to retain its right to mourn the Tiananmen victims. Police seized them and a second smaller statue of the goddess at the weekend when they were displayed at Times Square, Causeway Bay. However they were returned on Tuesday and are now displayed in Victoria Park.

Chen was refused entry to Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Lai described the university statement as contradictory and "shameful" and called upon authorities to withdraw it and apologize.

Supporters are also urged to join union members after tonight's vigil in Victoria Park to help transport the statues to an area outside the University MTR station.

Lai noted that the Pillar of Shame sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot was moved to the University of Hong Kong campus in Pok Fu Lam after the June 4 candlelight vigil in 1997.

The Chinese University said on Wednesday it respects freedom of expression "but firmly believes that the university should always maintain political neutrality."

It said the university "should not align itself with actions or activities which project a political position that would compromise the university's principle of political neutrality."

Last night, the university said it will continue to negotiate with students and hopes to resolve the matter satisfactorily.

Raymond Luk Yiu-man, a member of the university council, doubted the so- called "political neutrality."

CUHK vice chancellor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee is a member of the Executive Council and the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Luk said.


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