University of Hong Kong law professor and co-founder of the pro-democracy Occupy movement Benny Tai Yiu-ting said on Wednesday that he did not violate any regulations in receiving anonymous donations for the movement and that it was clear there were political motives behind the row.

Tai addressed reports that the HKU Council, the institution’s governing body, has decided to ban Tai from receiving donations, assuming managerial roles and supervising researchers. The row came after Tai was suspected of receiving funds on Occupy-related activities without notifying the university.

Speaking to local media, Tai said that HKU vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson briefed him on the ban but did not go into details. He has still yet to receive official notice on the matter.

He also announced that an audit on the donations is being carried out, which will be completed next month.

benny tai
Benny Tai speaking to local media on Wednesday. Photo: RTHK.

In June, the majority of the council’s members voted in favour of an investigation, meaning that disciplinary action against Tai and HKU’s former Dean of the Faculty of Law Johannes Chan Man-mun, who was then his supervisor, will be pursued.

Tai said the row over funds was being used to attack Chan and that the political considerations behind the move were clear, reported Commercial Radio.

The delay in the appointment of Chan as pro-vice-chancellor of the university has sparked widespread debate, prompting the HKU Alumni Convocation to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) earlier this month.

benny tai
Benny Tai. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

When asked whether he would lodge a judicial appeal against the ban, Tai said that it was still too early to discuss the matter.

He added that if he were dismissed by HKU because of his involvement in the civil disobedience movement last year, the university would have to explain the decision to Hong Kong and the international community.

He also commented on results of the EGM, where the notion of confirming the recommendation of Chan to the pro-vice chancellorship received overwhelming support. Tai said that although the results were not binding, it was persuasive on ethical grounds and the university should take it seriously.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.