No candidates have applied to run in the cabinet elections for the Hong Kong University Student Union. It may become leaderless for the first time in eight years.

The nomination period expired in December with no candidates vying to run for any posts in the 14-member central committee.

Hong Kong University Students’ Union building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Nominations were then re-opened in accordance with union regulations, but the deadline passed on Friday, again with no candidates.

Deterrence against activism

In recent years, the union has been led by student activists such as Yvonne Leung, a leader during the Umbrella Movement, and Billy Fung, who was sentenced to community service over protests against university council governance.

Incumbent union president Wong Ching-tak told HK01 that few people are willing to stand in the elections because the union is at the forefront of social movements, and leaders could get arrested: “Not everyone is willing to stand at the front.”

He added that the recent Department of Justice appeal to lengthen the sentences of Northeast New Territories and Umbrella Movement protesters discouraged students from joining social movements and becoming involved in student affairs.

Wong will remain president in a temporary capacity until April, when a by-election is set to be held.

Wong Ching-tak. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

University publication Undergrad reported that the last time the union became leaderless was in 2010, when the elected cabinet failed a vote of confidence. As a result, the previous year’s union took over in a temporary capacity.

For the upcoming elections to be held in Febraury, the student union has received nominations for the editorial board of Undergrad, the executive committee of union broadcaster Campus TV, and the union council – which is responsible for supervising the cabinet.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.