Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has not responded to allegations that a representative threatened members of its students’ union cabinet, a former member of the cabinet has said.

HKBU students' union
Photo: supplied.

In the 20-second recording, a man – said to be a school representative – can be heard telling the university’s students’ union cabinet: “I want to share my personal feelings – you can keep protesting, but remember, I’ll kick back if you punch me.”

It was recorded by the cabinet when HKBU, citing an anonymous complaint against the cabinet’s manifesto, penalised elected student leaders. It barred four of them from participating in school affairs for 16 months, requiring each of them to submit a 600-word journal of reflection and to pass a test on the national security law.

HKFP has reached out to HKBU for comment.

The election manifesto in question cited the arrests of former student leaders from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) for advocating terrorism over a motion they passed that mourned for a man who stabbed a police officer on July 1 and subsequently killed themself, the cabinet told HKFP.

Charles Kwok Wing-ho (middle), president of the University of Hong Kong Student Union.

Edwin Dai, one of the members who was punished over the manifesto, said it illustrated the general predicament student leaders in Hong Kong faced. The university, on the other hand, described the manifesto as “not fitting in the norms of society,” and containing “exaggerated” and “unfounded” descriptions of past events.

“We let the school read our manifesto and made amendments according to their requests beforehand… but even they admitted that they had shifted the bar because of the complaint letter,” Dai told HKFP.

The cabinet announced its disbandment in May, after 56 days, and released the recording on its social media account.

The defunct students’ union cabinet said in a press conference that it would seek to file a second appeal against its punishment after seeing the first one rejected by the school, adding that the university had deployed an unusual level of manpower for the first appeal.

“They locked down two floors in an academic building, deployed over 20 security and over 10 university staff, requested us to sign a non-disclosure agreement and to submit our phones before the appeal meeting,” Dai told HKFP.

Baptist University
Hong Kong Baptist University. Photo: GovHK.

Calling the previous appeal proceedings unfair, Dai said the students being punished had never been allowed to read the complaint letter or the investigation report, despite multiple requests.

The year-one social science student added that he worried about if the university would “kick back” at student leaders who spoke to the press as it was yet to respond to the leaked recording.

“Does that mean they agree with that speech [by the school representative]?… But we never really made a ‘punch,’ we are just trying to hold them accountable for their words,” Dai said.

In response to HKFP, HKBU said after a thorough review of a complaint about the former students’ union, it had found that some of the descriptions of past events in the election manifesto were “exaggerated, unfounded and biased, and misaligned with the norms and values of society at large.”

The university also said it was aware of a private meeting that had allegedly been secretly recorded and made public by students without prior notification. Calling the action “unacceptable,” HKBU said it would conduct an investigation and relevant disciplinary proceedings would begin at an appropriate time.

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Lea Mok is a multimedia reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously contributed to StandNews, The Initium, MingPao and others. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.