Rally against pro-Beijing official's HK uni appointment

HONG KONG • A large crowd protested in Hong Kong yesterday after a pro-Beijing official was appointed to a senior role at a leading university, as fears grow over what critics see as political interference in the city's education system.

The downtown rally staged by teachers, students and alumni comes in the wake of Mr Arthur Li's selection last month as chairman of the governing council at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

Protesters yesterday marched to Government House, the residence of Hong Kong leader Leung Chun Ying, who appointed Mr Li. The crowd held banners that read "defend the university's autonomy" and "uphold academic freedom". Some shouted: "Arthur Li, you will pay."

Organisers said 3,000 took part in the protest, while police estimated the crowd at 800.

Mr Li, a member of Hong Kong's Executive Council, the top advisory body to the government, started his three-year HKU term on Jan 1. He is widely known to be close to Mr Leung, who is also the chancellor of all the city's universities.

"The appointment is not just about HKU, it's not just about universities. This is an issue of governance in all of Hong Kong," Mr Benny Tai, a key figure in last year's pro-democracy movement, told the crowd. "The government just does not listen to public opinion."

In a non-binding vote in November by HKU alumni on whether Mr Li should be appointed, 98 per cent said no.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2016, with the headline 'Rally against pro-Beijing official's HK uni appointment'. Print Edition | Subscribe