Tuesday’s University of Hong Kong Council meeting was relocated from campus to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, with chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung saying that safety comes first.

The decision came after the last governing council meeting, held at the university’s Sassoon Road campus, ended with around 300 students protesting and surrounding council members, demanding reform. Police were deployed and a council member claimed that she felt like vomiting. Later, Li said that the students acted like they were on drugs while HKU Vice-Chancellor Peter Mathieson likened the behaviour to “mob rule”.

Arthur Li being surrounded.
Arthur Li being surrounded.

According to sources cited by RTHK, the email sent by the HKU Council to members did not explain the reason for the move, nor did it give details of which room the meeting would be held in. It merely gave directions to the venue and said a staff member would escort them thereafter.

“Many schools hold their meetings outside of the campus,” Li said. He also said that the venue was decided by the school and that he was simply in charge of hosting the meeting. When asked whether it was due to issues of safety, Li replied that no matter what safety always came first, RTHK reported.

‘Baffled’ by the arrangement

The Student Union’s boycott committee has criticised the move, saying that it was using school funds to finance the change of venue. It also asked the council to discuss setting up a special team on the amendment of the university’s ordinance, which dictates how the governing body is made up. New Student Union President Althea Suen said the student body has no plans to protest at the meeting, Stand News reported.

Meanwhile, HKU Alumni Concern Group convenor and Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said that he was baffled by the arrangements.

Ip Kin-yuen.
Ip Kin-yuen. File Photo: Stand News.

Ip also said the fact that the university could not even hold its council meeting on campus showed Li was incapable of resolving the stalemate between the governing body and the students.

Ip also said that the arrangement meant that the council meetings would be less transparent and urged the council to speak to the media after the meeting.

See also: Explainer: The HKU Council pro-vice-chancellor debacle.

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.