Hundreds attended a rally at Tamar Park, Admiralty, on Sunday to protest calls for Hong Kong independence and request that the University of Hong Kong’s governing council remove Occupy leader Benny Tai from his teaching position at the school’s law faculty.

The rally was organised by pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho and was attended by other pro-establishment figures including DAB lawmakers Holden Chow and Ben Chan, Liberal Party legislator Peter Shiu, columnist Chris Wat, and rural leaders Tsang Shu-wo and Hau Chi-keung.

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Junius Ho at the rally on Sunday. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Earlier, Ho urged the university to sack Tai for being the co-founder of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests, while linking the recent appearance of pro-independence slogans on campuses and other “cold-blooded attacks” at universities to Tai’s movement.

On Sunday, Ho said that Tai was responsible for the spread of pro-independence ideas, and criticised him for “challenging the spirit of rule of law.”

Ho added that he has received a reply from HKU Vice-Chancellor Peter Mathieson, saying that the matter will be dealt with in accordance with established procedures and policies. Ho has asked for a clarification as to whether the complaints mechanism will be deployed. Ho earlier submitted a petition with over 80,000 signatures urging the University of Hong Kong to investigate Tai.

When asked about the rally, Tai said that Ho was entitled to exercise his freedom of speech: “There’s no law preventing him from making these statements.”

benny tai

Tai said he believed that there was a stronger political force behind the calls for his sacking, which wanted to silence him. As “an insignificant university teacher,” he said that all he can do is defend his position during disciplinary hearings.

Broadcaster RTHK estimated that there were a couple of hundred protesters at the rally, while organisers said that there were 4,000. The police put the attendance figure at 2,100 at the peak of the event.

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.