The monthly meeting of the University of Hong Kong’s governing council kicked off amid high security and secrecy on Tuesday, following the siege of a meeting last month by angry students
The venue for Tuesday’s meeting was moved from the university campus in Pok Fu Lam to the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, and council members were kept in the dark about which room they would be heading to until they reached the centre.
University staff members took a head count of council members at the entrance to the centre’s old wing on Harbour Road, and then told them which room they should proceed to.
The old wing was closed to outsiders, and dozens of security guards and staff stood alert at and around the venue.
Many believed the secrecy was to avoid a repeat of the siege by students of an on-campus council meeting last month, where police and ambulances were called to the scene amid chaos created by student protests.
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The Post learned that the first thing the council would discuss at Tuesday’s meeting was safety issues at further meetings involving “an incumbent council member”, although the said member was not identified on the agenda.
Many have accused outgoing student union president Billy Fung Jing-en, whose term on the council ends in May, of helping protesting students organise the January siege of the meeting by texting organisers outside the venue about what was happening.
The protesting students demanded the council immediately set up a panel to review the governance structure of the university which they believed was susceptible to political interference. The protest stranded council chairman Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung and university vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson for hours.
The siege was later criticised by Mathieson – who had previously been seen as sympathetic to student protests – as “mob rule”.
The council decided after last month’s meeting to set up a review panel to look into the students’ demands. But the panel will not be established until after the publication of a University Grants Committee report on council structure, which will come in months.
By 5pm, most council members, including Li, Mathieson and Fung, had entered the venue without taking any questions.
Students previously said they would not launch another siege. There were no students in sight around the venue by 5pm.