Hong Kong leader cuts ties with Cambridge University college after row over academic freedom


Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she is cutting ties with University of Cambridge’s Wolfson College and has “given back” her honorary fellowship after a row over academic freedom across the semi-autonomous region.

Wolfson College said last month it was considering a proposal to strip Ms. Lam of the title after the passing of the national security law, raising concerns with Hong Kong leader’s “commitment to the protection of human rights and the freedom of expression”.

On Saturday night, Ms. Lam said on her Facebook page that she had written to the college a day earlier to relinquish her fellowship.

She said she was “deeply disappointed by the college smearing a person on the basis of hearsay instead of facts”.

The chief executive added the college president had been under pressure from British politicians, the media and other groups since the eruption of anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year.

She claimed to have repeatedly written to the college to clarify the situation and offer “the truth” on Hong Kong.

“The president again wrote to me last week, saying the college believes I have deviated from the principle of academic freedom and freedom of speech, penalised teachers who had criticised the government, banned students from singing and chanting slogans at school and enforced the national security law outside Hong Kong,” Ms. Lam wrote.

Ms. Lam also said that professor Jane Clarke, the president of Wolfson College, had failed to present any proof which supported the accusations made against her.

“I cannot persuade myself to continue having any connection with Wolfson College and therefore decided to give back the honorary fellowship,” said Ms. Lam, who previously studied at Cambridge University.

A statement from Wolfson College said: “The governing body raised concerns with Mrs Carrie Lam about her commitment to the protection of human rights and the freedom of expression in Hong Kong following recent events there. In response, Mrs Lam has resigned from her honorary fellowship.”

“The governing body was due to consider Mrs Lam’s honorary fellowship early next month but will no longer do so.”

Last November, three members of the House of Lords called for the college to cut ties with Ms Lam over her response to months of huge and often violent protests.

The college later expressed open concerns following the enactment of the national security law.

The legislation has criminalised any act of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces.

It gives Beijing powers to shape life in Hong Kong it has never had before. Critics say it effectively curtails protest and freedom of speech, while China has said it will return stability. (Source: Independent UK)