The Council of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has voted to suspend Student Union president Billy Fung Jing-en from future confidential meetings after he leaked details from earlier talks.

In September, Fung breached the Council’s confidentiality rules by publicly revealing the reasoning behind the body’s controversial decision to reject Johannes Chan Man-mun’s candidature for the University’s pro-vice-chancellorship.

Although Fung will retain his seat as students’ representative on the Council, his “refusal to abide by the principle of confidentiality” means that he will be barred from participating in discussions concerning “reserved items” with other Council members, who have said that the confidentiality clause is essential for free discussion.

[完整片段] 馮敬恩記者會斥校委會未審先判 擔心港大前途馮敬恩於校委會結束後以個人名義召開記者招待會,表示根據香港大學條例,校委會無權在司法機構作出裁決前對其作出處分,這剥削其作為本科生代表之權利。而校委會拒絕讓他參與保留事項的討論,亦意味在以後的校委會會議上,校委會主席可在制訂會議議程時把某些討論事項轉為保留事項,以此方法將持有異見之校委會委員排拒於討論之外。馮敬恩呼籲各界繼續關注校委會即將公佈的新校委會主席人選。

Posted by Campus TV, H.K.U.S.U. 香港大學學生會校園電視 on 2015年10月27日

At a campus press conference convened after the Council’s ruling, Fung likened his colleagues’ decision to being “sentenced without trial.” Undergraduate students, he said, had been deprived of their right to representation in the University’s governing body—a worrying sign for the future of the territory’s oldest and most prestigious tertiary institution.

Fung also expressed concern that any or all future proceeding could declared “confidential” as a means to exclude dissenting voices from the decision-making process.

Billy Fung Jing-en. Photo: HKU Undergrad via Facebook.
Billy Fung Jing-en. Photo: HKU Undergrad via Facebook.

During the fallout surrounding the Johannes Chan controversy, Fung defended his actions by arguing that the open and transparent operation of the Council is more valuable than the confidentiality clause. He also said that his revelation was not for personal gain but was in-keeping with the right of the students to know the Council’s reasoning.

HKU Academic Staff Association chairman Dr William Cheung Sing-wai earlier said that he was proud of Fung for speaking up for righteousness and that the association could not rule out actions supporting Fung if disciplinary action was taken against him.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others