Press "Enter" to skip to content

There are no complaints against Benny Tai over the comments of independence, says the dean of the law of the University of Hong Kong

The controversial academic Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a professor at the University of Hong Kong seems confident for now despite the official condemnation of his comments on the independence of the city and the increasing calls for his dismissal.

The dean of HKU Law School Michael Hor told Post that "he was not aware of any complaint to the faculty," while the university procedures were in place to deal with anyone.

If a complaint was filed, Hor said, if Tai's remarks – one of the leaders of the Occupy 2014 movement – fell within the limits of freedom of expression, it remained to be decided.

Asked if criticism from the pro-Beijing camp pressed him to take action against Tai, Hor shrugged at the problem and said: "The question at this time concerns the pressure on the prosecuting authorities whether or not they prefer a charge. "

Tai posted a message on his Facebook page on Tuesday night saying he believed he was being monitored by a" powerful law enforcement agency " .

That happened after the Beijing-friendly newspaper Ta Kung Pao posted a picture of him leaving a parking lot in Central even though Tai said he had taken precautions to make sure he was not being chased by anyone from the paper.

"For the record, if you see me … about to cross the border of Hong Kong with mainland China or Macau, take the time to ask me if I leave voluntarily," he wrote.

"If they see me on the mainland or in Macao, I definitely would not be there voluntarily, since I do not intend to go there at all.If you see me on videos that say I came back voluntarily, I definitely would have done it under pressure or coercion."

The dispute over Tai's suggestion at a forum in Taiwan last month that the city could "consider becoming an independent state" one day in a "democratic China" intensified on Monday when Beijing People's Daily demanded The Hong Kong government takes legal action against him under the city's criminal law.

Hong Kong 'can not prosecute' Benny Tai for talking about independence

The university is also under increasing pressure from the camp favorable to Beijing to dismiss the law professor, as his critics question whether Tai is still fit to teach.

A member of the senior management of the faculty, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Post on Tuesday that Tai, as an assistant professor of law, would not be affected by the controversy.

"Not much has changed," the source said, noting that "it was not the first day" that Tai had been attacked, having faced a similar reaction when leading the Occupy protests.

The source said that "there is simply no good cause" to justify an investigation or dismiss Tai, since his comments, similar to his role as Occupy, were not related to his teaching.

Neither the university nor interim president Paul Tam Kwong-hang could be contacted for comment.

41 lawmakers echo Beijing's sharp rebuke of independence commentary by legal scholar Benny Tai

A defiant Tai complained earlier that Beijing was making an example of him limiting freedom of speech and paving the road to stricter national security legislation in Hong Kong.

Former pro-Beijing legislator Tam Yiu-chung, the city's only deputy to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's highest legislative body, had publicly "warned" HKU to consider whether Tai was fit to remain in his post .

Tam's successor as president of the Democratic Alliance for the Improvement and Progress of Hong Kong, Starry Lee Wai-king, also intervened, saying that HKU should "investigate" if Tai had violated any rule from the Occupy movement.

"It can not be ignored simply because Tai said that he was having an academic discussion, this would not meet the expectations of the people of the university and the government … to leave all his responsibilities to the law of the city."

Fabulist Benny Tai lacks simple common sense

The Hong Kong Education Federation and several pro-establishment community groups also condemned Tai and urged HKU to dismiss him.

But Timothy O'Leary, a staff representative on the university's governing council, warned that the pro-Beijing camp was "trying to discredit Benny Tai, apparently in preparation for the trial [Occupy] and the response of HKU to the". Tai and other prominent Occupy protesters face an accusation of "incitement to incite public annoyance" and must appear before the court in November


"What Tai said is in no way in conflict with his role as an HKU professor," O'Leary said, urging the university to stand firm against calls to fire Tai. "Just because it bothers the government, obviously it's not a reason to stop doing it."

The Progressive Lawyers Group, comprised of barrios, attorneys and law students, urged the government to publicly apologize and "stop its intimidation and attacks against" Tai.

In a statement on Tuesday, the group said that instead of criticizing Tai, the government should defend freedom of expression and academic freedom, which are guaranteed by Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

Meanwhile, the political drama was also extended to the courts, as a Tai supporter requested judicial review pointing to an unusually strong statement issued earlier by the Hong Kong government criticizing the academic.

Kwok Cheuk-kin, a former official known for regularly bringing the government to court, argued that those statements were equally unconstitutional, in the sense that they showed that the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, had not complied with the articles of the Basic Law that protect freedom of speech and academic activities.

As a result, Lam, who made an oath to defend the Basic Law as the city's leader, should be expelled from work, he argued.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung and Chris Lau

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *