Book closes on Scholarism

Local | Kenneth Lau 21 Mar 2016

Scholarism, the student group that co- led the Occupy movement, suspended operations yesterday because, its leaders said, it was difficult to move forward.

About 120 former members, including 30 who were at the core of Scholarism, are splitting between a new political party and a new student organization.

About HK$1.45 million in a bank account will be divided, with HK$745,000 going into the Scholarism Fund for Legal Assistance managed by a firm of solicitors and HK$700,000 to the new student organization as a start-up fund.

Scholarism founder and convener Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who became prominent at age 15 in fighting against the national curriculum in schools and then more widely known when 17 and a face of the Occupy movement, said he will have an "important position" in the new political party as yet unnamed.

Now 19 and a second-year Open University student majoring in politics and public administration, Wong will be joined by one-time Scholarism spokeswoman Agnes Chow Ting, 19, and eight other core members.

The new student entity, which benefits from the Scholarism funds while the political party gets nothing, will be set up within six months as some of those who will be members are still taking the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination.

Wong Ji-yuet, an arts student at Lingnan University and Scholarism spokeswoman at the end, is penciled in for a key position in the new group.

Thirty core Scholarism members were at the Professional Teachers' Union office in Causeway Bay yesterday some in the movement's T-shirts to bring down the curtain and to thank people "who walked with us."

They chanted: "Leave with no regret, restart now" and "Stay fearless in students' movements."

Announcing the effective end of Scholarism, Chow said this did not imply a desertion of student movements.

Rather, she said, "we're much keener to take up a greater variety of social responsibilities in the near future." It had been "a very difficult decision" to suspend Scholarism, but they found limitations in moving forward.

Apart from running for elections and advocating political reforms, Wong said, a student group needed to speak out more on education, but Scholarism could not enter schools or community centers to hold talks or forums after Occupy as the situation became "highly politicized."

The legal assistance fund will support those arrested or charged due to political actions while participating as Scholarism members. The bank account will operate for seven years, so Scholarism will not be disbanded officially until 2023.

Any funds remaining then will go to rights organizations.

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