All members of the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) Students’ Union executive committee have resigned, according to a post on their Facebook page published on Monday.

Last month, HKBU said that they had carried out an investigation – following complaints – and found that there were some parts of the committee’s manifesto that failed to comply with “societal values.” The union’s cabinet was said to have included “exaggerated, unfounded and biased” descriptions of past events in its annual work plan, election platform and budget published online.

Baptist University
Hong Kong Baptist University. Photo: GovHK.

It is unclear which part of the manifesto was said to be problematic. HKFP has contacted HKBU for comment.

Last month, the university barred four executive committee members of the students’ union, including the chairperson and two vice-chairpersons, from taking part in management work related to student associations at the university, the union said.

Interim committee

“The school said they are unwilling to cooperate with the executive committee now,” Edwin Dai, one of the members who resigned, told HKFP.

“The reason is that the school has already punished four committee members. In other words, only three committee members are left. According to the constitution, the cabinet does not exist… That’s why they are only willing to communicate with us until there is a new interim committee.”

He added that for the benefit of the students, they had to resign and set up the new interim cabinet as soon as possible.

hong kong baptist uni
Hong Kong Baptist University. Photo: GovHK.

“Due to the harsh and unreasonable punishment by the school, the student union cannot attend school meetings and book rooms,” the student union said in the post. “We lost the right to participate in school affairs and it is difficult to maintain daily operations.”

Unions under pressure

Since Beijing imposed the sweeping national security law on the city in June 2020 – criminalising secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism – a number of Hong Kong’s government-funded universities have cut ties with their students’ unions.

Last November, HKBU “sternly admonished” the Communication Society after it shared a social media post titled “3rd anniversary of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Incident.”

national security education day
File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The occupation of PolyU by protesters in November 2019 involved violence and illegal acts, the university said. Any misleading statement and expression, or exaggeration of the incident, was “against the law-abiding spirit and moral values” upheld by the university and society at large, it added.

The university suspended the Communication Society’s right to use the email server and other facilities as a result. It also barred the student association from operating until the end of February this year.

Last January, members of a student publication at HKBU collectively resigned citing staff safety concerns and interference from the university after receiving complaints.

Correction 10.30pm: An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of Edwin Dai. We regret the error.

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Mandy Cheng is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. Previously, she worked at Ming Pao, focusing on investigative and feature reporting. She also contributed to Cable TV and others.