Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU)’s student union leader has criticised the school for publishing a redacted version of the speech he gave during the university’s opening ceremony on Tuesday.

Ken Lui Lok-hei, acting president of the HKBU Student Union, said the university changed the speech printed on the event programme at the last minute. Lines removed include mentions of “absurdity and lies” in Hong Kong society, and criticism of the Chinese government as an “autocratic regime.”

“Fellow schoolmates, I must stress that Hong Kong has already entered an age of decline. If you know the history of Taiwan, [you will know] that Hong Kong’s situation is gradually becoming the period of White Terror experienced in Taiwan in the 1950s,” Lui said in his speech. The lines did not appear in the version printed in the programme.

Ken Lui Lok-hei giving a speech during the HKBU convocation. Photo: HKBU.

An HKBU spokesperson said the university respected students’ freedom of speech and did not interfere with Lui’s remarks. However, the full transcript was not printed in the event programme due to a lack of space, the spokesperson said.

HKBU President Roland Chin did not respond to questions as he left the opening ceremony.

Over the past week, student leaders at the Education University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong gave speeches at universities’ opening ceremonies which included mentions of Hong Kong independence. The incidents prompted condemnation from Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Lui did not mention independence in his speech.

Responding to reporters’ questions about the student leaders, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Deputy Director Huang Liuquan said on Wednesday that young people in Hong Kong should be more active in learning about China and its history.

Huang, who spoke on the sidelines of a forum in Guangzhou, added that the central goverment has zero tolerance for Hong Kong independence, and Hong Kong should strengthen efforts to combat pro-independence talk.

A comparison of the oral and print version of Ken Lui’s speech. Photo: HKBU Student Union Facebook.

Speaking after the opening ceremony, Lui said discussion of Hong Kong independence should be allowed on university campuses.

“The rise of localism is a natural reaction to the government’s suppression of young people,” he said.

Lui added that he had submitted his transcript to HKBU ahead of time, and did not know why the university would redact certain sections. By comparing the pamphlet with a transcript provided by Lui, HKFP found that about 30 per cent of Lui’s remarks were not included in the university’s programme.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.