Around 300 students at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) kicked off a class boycott on Wednesday in protest of the controversial appointment of Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as the university council’s new chairman last month.

Protest organisers said they want the structure of the university’s governing body to be reformed, demanding that a review panel be set up to re-examine the University of Hong Kong Ordinance.

“I believe that our concerns are very clearly put to the council members… the 26th will be the next council meeting and we do expect a response from them by that day,” Yvonne Leung Lai-Kwok, a member of the student boycott committee said.

HKU class boycott January 20
HKU students gather at Wong Haking podium. Photo: HKFP.

Although the committee was not satisfied with the turnout, Keyvin Wong Chun-Kit said that the size of the podium restricted the number of students who could attend the event, adding that there were students who were watching from the periphery.

Some faculty members had said they would provide support for the boycott. However, most did not join the movement despite calls from students.

Johannes Chan Man-mun, who was rejected for the pro-vice-chancellorship position by the Council, said that he would help organise make-up classes for students who participated in the boycott. 

Cheung Sing-wai, chairman of the Academic Staff Association of the University of Hong Kong, said the faculty could not participate because of legal issues.

HKU class boycott pro-establishment group
Pro-establishment group at HKU.

A group of pro-establishment protesters appeared to show their support for Arthur Li. They argued with students, leading to a brief commotion.

The boycott will last until January 26, when the council is due to meet and discuss university affairs. It is not yet clear what further actions students will take if their demands are not met by the council.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.