My fellow schoolmates and friends, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the executive committee of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union, I would like to express my warmest welcome to all of you, especially the freshers. Welcome to the University of Hong Kong, where you can share the glory achieved by our predecessors with their effort and sacrifice. Looking into your eyes, I can clearly see your passion, courage, and conviction in proving yourself.
Being an alma mater to thousands of people from all over the world, HKU has inspired countless generations of graduates with knowledge and all-round education. HKU is supposed to be the breeding ground of dreams and ideologies. However, I’m afraid our university is now losing her glory.
This year has been an eventful year. The current Chief Executive of the HKSAR government criticised the Undergrad, HKUSU in his policy address because they advocated the possibility of self-determination in Hong Kong by publishing Hong Kong Nationalism. The Chief Executive was also suspected to manipulate the list of honorary degree graduands, and later appointed a person who has no contribution to Hong Kong’s education sector into HKU Council. Moreover, the HKU Council, in which one third of the members are appointed by the Chief Executive himself, decided to defer the appointment of our Pro-Vice Chancellor until the appointment of the Provost under a totally ridiculous pretext.
My fellow schoolmates and friends, as members of the university, we have no reason to watch our university die.
Within our institution, academic freedom and institutional autonomy are of utmost importance. While our university has long been a hotbed of ideologies, the unprecedented Umbrella Revolution further sparked heated discussion on our identity amid current doubts and future uncertainties. The independence of Hong Kong and Hong Kong as a nation are only some of the recently developed ideologies. In a ground-breaking way, they are challenging and threatening the long-established Chinese Communist regime.
In any case, we shall take defending our academic freedom and institutional autonomy as our basic duty. Our enemy is ever burgeoning, and we must armour ourselves so that we can stand a chance in deterring interference to our institution in this war of freedom, a war to fight for the rights that we are entitled to.
Given that the Chancellor should be honorary in nature and that the composition of the university governance structure need to be reviewed in order to comprehensively reveal the opinion of the main sectors of the university, the Hong Kong University Students’ Union will launch a campaign to investigate on the possibility of amendments of University Ordinance and Statutes of the University of Hong Kong. We will conduct case studies, deliberation days, and a referendum for the sake of our next generation. Therefore, my friends, please join hands with us and make the campaign a successful one together. Your support and your participation will certainly make a difference.
My fellow schoolmates and friends, we do not only belong to HKU, but also to Hong Kong, the beautiful city that we call home.
Going through the immense transformation from a colony to a special administrative region, from a fishing village to a metropolis, our spirit has always remained unchanged, overcoming every challenge and hardship with determination and no thought of ever giving up. Once we had hope for the future, faith in the system, and a firm belief that our core values shall long last. But now, in this era of political suppression, we are forced to cross a point of no return.
After the Legislative Council voted down the electoral reform plan proposed by the HKSAR government, real democracy with civil nomination and “one person, one vote” with equal weighting has not become a reality. At the same time, Hong Kong’s future after 2047 together with the issue pertaining to formulating a new constitution or amending the Basic Law sparked considerable controversy in society recently.
It is now 70 years since the Hong Kong Liberation Day. Our predecessors in the University of Hong Kong participated in the Hong Kong Voluntary Defense Force and some of them even safeguarded Hong Kong with their lives.
My fellow schoolmates and friends, although there is still no end in sight in this war of fate, we must continue to fight with hope and faith. In such a winter of hardship, it is our time to create our own brighter future, and a city that we shall always be proud of.
Let’s step forward and win this war.