Lingnan University President Leonard Cheng has said that discussions on Hong Kong independence will be allowed on campus, while stressing that the university is not in support of the idea itself.

Pro-independence banners appeared across university campuses last week, renewing debate over whether discussion on the topic should be allowed in schools. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has decried the appearance of such slogans as an “abuse” of freedom of speech.

Photo: RTHK screenshot.

After a banner on the democracy wall at Lingnan University was found to have been torn down on Monday evening without permission, the students reported the matter to the police. It read: “Free speech should still be defended even if [one is] not in support of Hong Kong independence.”

Cheng told reporters on Wednesday that the school administration had not taken down any posters from the student union’s Democracy Wall. Cheng also said the school had been speaking to students about how to handle the banners, and that the wall remains under the management of the union.

See also: No more political pressure on students, Education University council chair urges

“It depends on the nature [of the banners]; if it’s posted on the student union’s democracy wall, they are generally for discussion purposes, and there’s no problem with those. But we do not agree with or tolerate advocating independence. So of course, if it’s in other places, we will take action according to the university’s policies,” Cheng said.

Posters at Chinese University. Photo: In-Media.

Cheng also said that Hong Kong independence was against the Basic Law and expressed hope that the university will not be “politicised.” He added that the presidents of the eight universities in Hong Kong have been discussing the matter but have yet to come up with a collective stance.

Earlier this week, the student unions of 13 higher institutions released a joint statement condemning Chief Executive Carrie Lam and university authorities for “making an explicit effort” to limit free speech after the emergence of the banners.

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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.