Carrie Lam tries to take us for fools with her tall story
To tell or not to tell the people? The government chose not to. And when the people learnt of the cover-up, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor took them for fools. She told a tall story, which she expected the people to believe. The facts are not in dispute. Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim flew secretly to Beijing. He kept us in the dark despite angry opposition to the government imposing national education on schools. Lam blames the unannounced trip on an innocent mix-up. She wants us to believe that someone in government - whom she did not name - simply got confused by rules on when to publicise such trips. She said this idiot (our word) thought that since Ng's trip lasted less than a day, the people didn't have to be told. Believe Lam if you believe there really is a Santa Claus who rides around in a sleigh with flying reindeer. The holes in her story are so huge that even the very rotund Santa Claus could pass through. We must assume the person she blames is senior, since decisions on publicising a minister's trip to the mainland would not be left to juniors. At least, we hope not. So the senior official who got the rules muddled is not just an idiot but doubly stupid for being in a position to decide, yet not understand how sensitive it is for the education chief to fly to Beijing when the national education controversy is still raging. Surely, common sense would have told this person such a trip needed transparency. If you believe in Lam's tale, then this person is undeserving of an iron rice bowl and should be fired forthwith. If you don't believe Lam, then we need to stick a Pinocchio's nose on her forthwith.
Education minister needs to come clean on Beijing trip
What was Eddie Ng doing in Beijing anyway? He had been education minister for just two weeks when he secretly stole off. What was the urgency? He wants us to believe it was simply a courtesy call. How could it have been so pressing that he wasted public money to rush off to Beijing, yet had no time to meet local parents opposed to national education? The man is in charge of education, for goodness sake. That's a local issue. Courtesy calls can come later. Public Eye can think of no other reason for him to rush off except to discuss national education. His spokesman said the matter was 'touched on'. What does that mean? Did he simply say to his Beijing bosses: 'Ah yes, national education. Hot potato.' But if he went beyond that, it would be a tall tale to say he 'touched on' it. We've all become so obsessed with the secrecy of his trip that we have neglected the substance. What exactly was discussed? Ng needs to come clean.
You can't ram national pride down our throats
Let's get one thing clear - Public Eye is not against national education. Western democracies have it, too. Older Hongkongers will tell you that back in their day the queen's picture even adorned classroom walls. It's fine to be proud of one's country. And citizens should know about their country. But Hong Kong is not North Korea. We are an open society. People know how to think freely. You can't ram national pride down their throats. It has to grow naturally from inside them. That won't happen when the government does senselessly insensitive things such as funding a pro-Beijing group to produce a one-sided teaching manual and talking secretly with mainland education officials. It just fuels suspicion that the government wants to brainwash the schoolchildren. Let's wipe the slate clean. Consult the public as parents are now demanding. Then teach honestly - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don't call it national education. And, no more secret trips.