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University president's open letter draws discontent in Hong Kong

(Xinhua)    07:45, October 25, 2019

HONG KONG, Oct. 24 -- The recent police-bashing remarks of Rocky Tuan, president of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has triggered wide discontent in Hong Kong, raising questions over its fairness and even demands for withdrawal.

Tuan accused Hong Kong police of using improper violence against students in an open letter, shunning violent acts of those students. He said the university reached out to more than 30 arrested students, most of whom claimed to be treated unreasonably.

He asked the police to make a clarification and said he would write to Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam.

Hong Kong police, in their response, has said that anyone that feels discontent during police action or after being arrested should step forward to file complaints and provide basic information on the allegation, which was, however, missing in Tuan's letter.

Several police officers associations in Hong Kong on Wednesday urged Tuan not to bring politics to campus and expressed concerns that Tuan's move would lead to more colleges affected by the political conflict.

The officers groups said that they regretted that Tuan did not mention the serious crimes that the students were suspected of committing but shouted at the top of his voice to demand investigation and denounce the police.

Heads of eight university governing councils in Hong Kong issued a joint statement after Tuan penned the letter, saying universities were not battlegrounds for political issues and should not be drawn into supporting any particular political position.

Assistance provided by universities to students and staff does not represent support for their political views, said the statement from the governing council heads, including the one of CUHK.

Tuan's remarks have also upset many educators, who said the biased statement was not based on evidence but unproven allegations.

Tang Fei, principal of Hong Kong's Heung To Secondary School (Tseung Kwan O), said it was unfair that Tuan sided with the students after only listening to their one-sided stories.

Tang said he hopes Tuan would withdraw his remarks and make "a new statement based on the joint statement of the university governing councils that is reasonable and in accordance with educational ethics."

Tang said universities are not responsible for student behaviors including extreme speech and illegal acts, because they are already grown-ups capable of bearing the consequences.

Wong Kam-leung, chairman of Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said he understands that Tuan wanted to listen to the students' thoughts through dialogues.

But apart from conversations with the students, Tuan should also try to comprehend the true picture and work with the police to restore the truth if the students were treated unfairly, said Wong.

Ko Gra-yee, president of the Hong Kong Teachers' Association and president of the Hong Kong Academy of School Managers, agreed that students who claimed to be sexually assaulted by the police should file complaints.

This would be much more fair and efficient than simply speaking at a public occasion, he said.

Ho Hon-kuen, chairman of Education Convergence of Hong Kong, said that Tuan's open letter still has room for improvement: it should note whether the president would apologize if the police are proved to be not guilty of power abuse, and that the president does not support any form of violence.

Ho said the university president should not ignore the students' law-breaking behaviors and allow them to continue the violent acts, which have already brought damages to the CUHK campus.

The remarks of the university president have disappointed some parents of the CUHK students as well. In a published article on Local newspaper Ta Kung Pao Monday, a parent complained that his or her son, who just started his first year at CUHK, became irrational and refuses to communicate with the family since he began taking part in illegal activities in June.

In the article titled "It's a mistake to send my kid to CUHK", the parent expressed worries in seeing hatred growing inside a child after he enrolled in CUHK.

"Everyone knows that the students have violated the law, why have the university and the president turned a blind eye to it?" the article asked.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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