Varsity chiefs avoid politics as they help arrested students

Local | Sophie Hui 21 Oct 2019

Heads of eight university councils issued a joint statement yesterday saying that assistance provided by universities to arrested students and staff members do not represent any support for their political views.

The statement was issued under the names of Arthur Li Kwok-cheung of the University of Hong Kong; Norman Leung Nai-pang of Chinese University; Andrew Liao Cheung-Sing of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Lester Garson Huang of City University; Clement Chen Cheng-jen of Baptist University; Frederick Ma Si-hang of the Education University; Lam Tai-fai of Polytechnic University; and the acting chairman and deputy chairman of the Council of Lingnan University, Simon Ip Shing-hing.

"Universities cherish the well-being of all staff and students," said the chairs of the eight university councils.

"Within its capability, a university will provide assistance and advice but all staff and students must be personally responsible for the consequences of their actions." But they added that all stakeholders are expected to abide by the law at all times.

"Any assistance or advice rendered is in keeping with the pastoral care of its stakeholders, and does not represent any support for the political view of any stakeholder," they said.

They also said universities cherish a diversity of views and promote robust yet civilized and respectful discussions.

"Universities are, however, not battlegrounds for the resolution of political issues and should not be drawn into supporting any particular political position," they said.

Meanwhile, a People's Daily commentary slammed Chinese University vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan Sung-chi for his "biased" public letter calling for investigation of police abuse.

The letter focused on the version offered by arrested students, but made no mention of students and teachers who were harmed during unrest, it said yesterday.

In the open letter by Tuan released last Friday, he said the university would also help students assert their rights.

He said the university has contacted more than 30 students who were arrested in the protests, and about 20 of them said they had received unreasonable treatment while they were detained, including giving statements without a lawyer, not being able to see their family, and not being given medication they needed.

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