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Thursday, Sep 24, 2020

Chinese University president Rocky Tuan, who was tear-gassed during attempt to mediate between protesters and police, returns to work after days in hospital

Tuan says he is now ‘fully engaged’ in his responsibilities after care from city’s medical professionals. In open letter to students and university staff, Tuan also apologises for disruption to work and studies after campus evacuation
Chinese University president Rocky Tuan Sung-chi, who spent days in hospital after being tear-gassed while mediating between protesters and police officers on campus, has recovered and returned to work.

In an open letter to students and university staff on Tuesday, Tuan also apologised for the disruption to their work and studies after they were forced to leave the campus during a week-long occupation by protesters earlier in November.

The five-day occupation started on November 11, when protesters disrupted traffic on the Tolo Highway and trains on the East Rail line by dropping objects from the university’s Bridge No 2.

Police attempts to enter were rebuffed in a fiery stand-off, which saw petrol bombs and tear gas exchanged, before protesters fled on November 15.

“I was taken ill and admitted to hospital on November 16 but thankfully, with the care of our medical professionals, I have recovered and am now fully engaged in my responsibilities,” Tuan wrote, expressing his gratitude to all his well-wishers.

Neither Tuan nor the university have revealed specifics of his illness.

On Monday, many students and staff wrote cards and letters to Tuan as the student union said messages collected would then be delivered to the president’s office.

In his letter, Tuan also thanked the “relentless and tireless endeavours of colleagues and friends” from various sectors of the community for helping to end the situation peacefully.

“The conflicts and incidents on campus have presented hardship for all members of the university, which could in fact last for some time to come,” Tuan said.

The university resumed operation on November 25 with security stepped up. But areas where the most severe clashes happened remained closed. Tests for harmful substances in the air and water were still pending results.

Tuan said they would be released immediately “upon receipt of the report” and the university had also arranged workshops for staff to remind them about health and safety.

Tuan, who took office last year, was the first university head in the city who said in October he would condemn proven cases of police violence during the anti-government protests that have been roiling the city for almost six months.

He was later criticised by pro-Beijing figures and state media but received support from many students.

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