HKU chief stands his ground

Top News | Phoenix Un 19 Jul 2019

University of Hong Kong vice chancellor Zhang Xiang doubled down on his position that an investigation was needed first before he would condemn excessive police force used against protesters.

Zhang was grilled last night at a forum attended by about 600 students, teachers and alumni at Loke Yew Hall in Pok Fu Lam.

He was criticized after his July 3 statement condemning the "violence that occurred in the Legislative Council," referring to the occupancy of the building by protesters on July 1.

Critics said Zhang held a double standard, condemning protesters but not police. He remained silent on the alleged police abuse of power during a dialogue with students last Friday.

Yesterday, alumnus Ivan Mak asked Zhang: "Will you also condemn police brutality and excessive use of force by police?"

Zhang insisted that there should be an investigation to prove the police brutality first.

Senior counsel Alan Leong Kah-kit, also an alumnus, said the Loke Yew Hall was where revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, spoke at his alma mater.

"That demonstrates that violence may sometimes be the solution to a problem," Leong said. "I hope everyone of us who has power should strive their best to avoid the inevitability to choose the use of force to solve problems."

Zhang countered: "I have a different view on violence, as I don't think violence is the solution."

Student Ms Lam said: "You condemned students and citizens right after the event your actions show a lack of concern to social events, and it's not the things an HKU president should do."

Zhang said it was legal for police to use force, "and the problem is whether the use is excessive; that is not determined simply by watching sections of videos."

Alumnus Liu Chun-wah said police brutality was clear enough. "You shouldn't forget that police on June 12 beat protesters and journalists, and indirectly caused the death of four young people, which are more severe than breaking several windows," he said.

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