Message from The Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni and Members of the HKU Family,

The University held a most dignified Centenary Ceremony last week. Vice-Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council, and key officials from Ministries of Education, Science and Technology were among our invited guests. The event gave us the opportunity not only to showcase HKU’s many achievements in different aspects, but also to further reaffirm the tie between Hong Kong and the Mainland. Indeed, as the most international university in China, HKU has an obligation to build a meaningful link between the higher education on the Mainland and that of the world.

Unfortunately, the occasion was marred by some imperfect arrangements and an unhappy incident.

I must admit, with much regret, that the event could have been better planned and organised. However, this was the University’s first time to have a state leader attending such an important ceremony on campus. We simply did not have too much experience in organising an event of such nature in a short time frame. We have already received a large volume of feedbacks from students, staff, alumni and members of the community. All comments are important to us as they will help improve our future events of such magnitude. We also consider this an important lesson learnt and are committed to developing an appropriate set of protocols and security measures to ensure that future events would be open and engaging. The autonomy of the University must be safeguarded and freedom of expression guaranteed when any security measure is deployed.

Close to 600 people attended the Ceremony inside Loke Yew Hall. Besides Vice-Premier Li and his delegation, we had students, faculty and staff members, and other guests. There were 40 presidents and scholars from local and overseas universities. Due to the tight schedule, students were invited both as guests and helpers, through Faculty offices and Residential Hall Student Associations and from the “Student Ambassadors” and “Green Gown Guide” programmes. Over 200 students assisted in various aspects of the event organisation, but only some 80 of them attended the Ceremony due to the limited seating capacity of the Hall. We also arranged to have student representatives, including the President of the Students’ Union, the President of the Postgraduate Students Association, and student representatives from the Council and Senate, to meet Vice-Premier Li in person. For staff, we extended an invitation to the entire faculty, Assistant Professors and above, and colleagues in the administration and support departments. As for our other guests, invitations were sent to those who have given support to, or have involved in the planning of our various Centenary Celebrations activities, and many of whom were HKU alumni.

The University did not arrange for a system of registration open to all members of the HKU Family on this occasion simply because of the limited seating capacity and the very tight time frame. It is clear now that such an arrangement was unsatisfactory, despite the fact that we provided a live webcast and there was telecast via several TV stations. We will carefully reflect on how we can improve future arrangements.

Our current campus security is not designed to handle the level of security required for such kind of visit from a state leader. Therefore, we could only turn to the Hong Kong Police Force and rely on their professional experience and judgment in deciding on the security measures to be deployed on campus. We were all taken aback by the scale of police mobilised on the date of the event.

As far as the confrontation between the Police and students at K K Leung Building is concerned, we judged that the measures the Police used in handling the student protest were unacceptable. The physical contact that resulted in a student being pushed to the ground was unnecessary. We understand that the Police will be reviewing their actions and the University will continue to liaise with them to ensure that similar incidents will never occur again on campus.

I am sorry about the above incident and, as the head of this institution, would like to offer my sincere apologies to our students and alumni for not having been able to prevent it. I wish to assure them that the University campus belongs to students and teachers and that it will always remain a place for freedom of expression.

I will make sure that HKU continues to stand by its belief in freedom, liberty and diversity. The University will continue to invite leaders of different backgrounds, in different areas, and from all over the world to our campus to bring to us inspiration and ideas. HKU will also keep reaching out to other parts of the world and continue to engage with different voices and cultures.

We understand the high expectations the public has for HKU and we value the spirit of openness that Hong Kong people embrace.

Today, The University of Hong Kong is for Hong Kong, for China and for the World. Our road ahead will be challenging, but on the occasion of the University’s Centenary, we will continue to stay true to our vision and mission, and look forward to working with all of you to make our coming century an even better and brighter one.

Professor Lap-Chee Tsui
Vice-Chancellor and President

August 23, 2011

致各位港大同學、教職員、校友及友好:

香港大學邀請國務院副總理李克強,率領教育、科技等部門主要負責人來訪,出席港大百周年校慶典禮,展示大學各方面的成就,促進香港與內地的交流及了解溝通。作為中國土地上最國際化的大學,港大有責任為內地高等教育與國際接軌作出貢獻。

這是首次有國家領導人出席大學的重要典禮,大學未有籌辦同類活動的經驗,加上籌備過程緊迫,我們必須承認,活動的安排有欠完備。我們虛心聆聽師生、校友和社會人士的寶貴意見,我們會檢討整個典禮的籌備工作,汲取教訓,切實制定一套合適的禮儀及保安規格,以確保未來在籌辦同類型活動時,充份反映公開、平等參與的精神;執法人員在校園內履行職務,必須尊重大學的自主地位,並讓不同意見得到充份表達的機會。

典禮的出席人士約六百人,主要分為學生、教職員、嘉賓、訪問團成員,約四十位海內外的校長和學者。學生方面,由於活動籌備時間相當匆促,需要大量學生協助籌組工作,所以通過學院辦公室和宿舍學生會、以及「學生大使」、「綠袍導賞」等計劃,招募二百多名同學當學生助理, 其中有八十多位參與了典禮。我們亦有安排學生代表,包括學生會會長、研究生會會長、校務委員會及教務委員會的學生代表等,跟李克強副總理有近距離見面。教職員方面,我們向所有助理教授級以上的老師及主要行政和後勤部門發出電郵邀請。嘉賓方面,我們邀請了各項百周年活動參與籌備的人士,當中包括不少校友。

由於典禮的場地陸佑堂座位所限及時間緊迫,這次活動沒有公開邀請所有港大成員登記參加。雖然我們安排網上直播,數家電視台亦作出即場轉播,希望讓更多港大人及市民與我們分享典禮,但事後看來,我們承認這種安排有欠完善,定當再細思應如何改進。

大學校園的保安人員編制, 並無能力符合領導人來訪所需的保安規格,所以只能倚靠警方的專業經驗及判斷,在校園內作出適當部署及調動。然而,活動當日在校內的警力規模之大,是出乎我們的意料。

對於有學生在梁銶琚樓地下示威期間,遭受警方推撞,我們認為,警方當時處理示威的力度和手法,導致了不必要的肢體衝撞,令學生被推倒地上,絕對不能接受。警方表示會對是次行動進行檢討,這是有必要做的事。我們已去信有關當局,與警方聯絡作出檢討,確保日後在校園內不會有同類事件發生。

我對當天同學與校友在校園裡表達意見時遭遇不愉快的事件,深表遺憾。身為港大校長,對未能防範此事發生,我表示歉意。我在此保證,大學師生是校園的主人,港大永遠是言論自由的堡壘。

我們必當恪守自由、開放、多元化傳統,繼續邀請來自不同領域、不同國家、不同範疇的領袖人物,為師生帶來啟發、衝擊,讓世界認識港大,讓校園繼續充當一個綻放不同意見、不同文化的平台。

我們深切體會大家對港大的期許、香港人對自由開放精神的珍惜。

香港大學,今日為香港、為中國、為世界而立,前面的挑戰絕不簡單。我們一直在反思港大的使命,並致力與大家共建未來。

香港大學校長徐立之
2011年8月23日

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