Top management figures of the besieged Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have helped to clean a canteen inside the campus upon the request of a protester.

Dozens of demonstrators have refused to leave the blockaded Hung Hom campus for more than a week following intense clashes with police. Most inside have either escaped or voluntarily left, though some have been arrested by officers stationed outside.

PolyU. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Several top PolyU figures, including the Chairman of the Council Lam Tai-fai and Vice-Presidents Ben Young and Alexander Wai, paid a visit to inspect the university at midday on Thursday.

As the group reached the Communal Building, they were stopped by a masked protester holding a soup spoon. The protester has become known as the “Chef” after volunteering to cook for protesters at the university’s main canteen.

“Chef” insisted on speaking with the management and criticised them as arriving too late to help the people inside the campus.

“Has anyone been helping me?” he asked. “Have you fulfilled your duties?”

Wai said the canteen was dirty. “Chef” replied asking him to help clean it, which Wai agreed to.

The management figures wore gloves as they helped “Chef” to clean the dining hall for around 30 minutes, however, Lam was not present.

PolyU canteen
The PolyU VA building canteen after some cleaning. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Wai said he had heard of protesters becoming sick from living in the squalid conditions and urged everyone to leave.

When asked how he could persuade protesters facing rioting charges to leave, Wai said the university could arrange for management staff to accompany them to police stations or hospitals.

PolyU canteen
Food leftover at the PolyU VA building canteen. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Wai added he did not know when the university could reopen.

“The campus is now being occupied and we have yet to gather the manpower to clean it,” he said.

Alexander Wai
Alexander Wai. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Way Kuo, the head of the City University, also paid a visit to the school on Thursday after hearing that two of his students were inside PolyU, though he did not find them.

He said hygiene at the campus was deteriorating and urged all to leave. “It’s really sad,” he said.

PolyU canteen
The PolyU VA building canteen. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Catholic and Christian pastors also entered the school in an attempt to speak with those inside.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said protesters inside PolyU did not trust the police and the government.

PolyU. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“They are very concerned that they will get beaten up after they leave,” he said on a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday.

Ip said many of the protesters inside were “psychologically tortured” as the occupation dragged on.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.