• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 11:09pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2012, 7:11am

Just who is brainwashing whom?


Alex Lo is a senior writer at the South China Morning Post. He writes editorials and the daily “My Take” column on page 2. He also edits the weekly science and technology page in Sunday Morning Post.

The fiery, teary speeches on stage. The arms crossed in unison by the thousands, most of them wearing the same black T-shirts with black ribbons tied around their wrists. If I didn't know better, I would have thought this was a radical cult involving young children.

But no, it was the anti-brainwashing rally against the new national education curriculum outside the government headquarters in Admiralty. The whole scene on Monday night rather reminded me of a famous scene from the video of Pink Floyd's hit album The Wall. Remember, "We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control." The irony of Roger Waters' great creation was that the children with clenched fists who rebelled against their elders fell under the spell of a deranged, fascist leader.

Well, we don't have a cult leader yet, but the pure enthusiasm, youthful rebellion, rejectionism, intransigence and total contempt for the authorities are all on display. I am no fan of our rather clueless government. But the insults, deliberate humiliation and rudeness levelled against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Executive Council member Anna Wu Hung-yuk - who heads a committee on national education - are indeed disturbing. When Leung tried to talk to the group on Saturday, they told him off. Then, inexplicably on Monday night, they demanded Leung go on stage to meet them. What for? A public lynching?

The youngsters, remarkably, are encouraged by many parents and the media. A particularly "fruity" local paper has given up all pretence of journalistic objectivity and handed them its front page as their mouthpiece. Does no one think it absurd and extreme for teenagers to launch a hunger strike over a minor school programme? Those who advocate national education may be right or wrong. Parents and educators have every right to reject it. But we should not let our children decide what goes into their curriculums.

If we are to prepare them for a democratic future, they should learn about compromise, negotiation, give-and-take. Today, we are telling them to reject, and to become extreme, unreasoning and uncompromising; and to show contempt to all those who disagree with them.


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This article is now closed to comments

Alex, you appear - for whatever motive - to underestimate the depth of popular feeling on this issue. People are angry. They know they are being badly governed and do not have the option of replacing their government through the ballot box. So forgive them if they are not in the mood for compromise, negotiation, give-and-take!!
The greedy **** are trying to steal Diaoyutai, but i do not see one single student demo against it here in Hong Kong. Of course, students in the mainland and Taiwan have already shown their patriotiism, putting reunification issues aside for the moment.
Here, I see a handful of elderly, grey haired gentlemen protesting at the **** consulate. Of course, our students are very busy, planning to step up their antics against learning about their own country ...
Great article.
It does abhor me that some teenagers who are against the new national education subject has not even read the curriculum, but are rather swept by the wave of rage expressed by their peers or by the media. True, the curriculum is not at all near perfect and we all have our freedom of speech, but I believe our generation does need to know more about our nation. Whether you like it or not, China is still the motherland of Hong Kong.
Brovo, you are only a handful who has the guts to spell out the reality. Like it or not, Hong Kong is on Chinese soil. Any one who cannot accept this sovereign reality has the right to leave, but has no right to interrupt the lives of others. If our young folks can just take a moment to think, even if they want to leave, who is going to issue you with a travel document other than the Hong Kong government? Worst are those protesting young parents who brought their children into this world knowing that there will be changes after 1997.
Jaminy Cricket of Hong Kong
Good article. How does one brainwash the brainless anyway? Isn't that a biological contradiction? If they cannot even face different sides of a debate, if telling the easily observable shortcomings of Democracy is too "dangerous" to the mental health of their kids, the long-term consequences would give the verdict one day. Reality is only taking a short break in HK.
I'm puzzled by the fact that the extreme fantasies in the Bible can be taught in school, and not regarded as "brainwashing", while the innocuous agenda proposed in National Education is too "dangerous" for their vulnerable little brain. The best policy is to let them be. Let these kids grow up and spend the rest of their lives complaining about life being unfair.
You're a good writer, but your argument here is weak. It's an outrageous policy and to suggest compromise is in order is to imply that the policy has merits, which it absolutely does not.
pls point out which part of alex's argument is weak.also, is singing your own country's national item not a token patriotic act amongst civilised, democratic countries? U are just trying to force your own views on the rest of the silent majority! What if the rest do want to sing it? In the US, u would be charged for subversion. u are forcing your own views on the rest of us!!!
Hey, we just love our freedom of speech. End of story.
he Hong Kong Spirit is something that the Central government needs a lesson on. It seems that after nearly 15 years of return to the 1 country 2 system, the Chinese Central government had not learned anything about their fellow Chinese from Hong Kong. The people of Hong Kong are not any lesser a patriot when it comes to the motherland, China, but pushing for a 1 party syllabus is quite something else. Teaching about the Communist party and teaching about Yue Fei, Sun Wen or any other patriots is an altogether different perspective. For one, the lessons on Yue Fei and Sun Wen teaches us about the sacrifice each had to give to China and the people without any prejudice. The Chinese Central government at this stage should be using the unifying studies of loyalty to the country and not loyalty to the party as a core studies. This will not only prevent a backlash but also serve as a rallying point for all their other provinces. If the 1 party moral education was introduced then what is China compared to the party?
How you would explain then, when there were demonstrations and protests the british colonial flag of Hong Kong were carried in the marches. When I saw those I had immediately the words "traitor" or "Hon Gaan" in mind.




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