My Take

Rude protesters need better role models than Wong Yuk-man

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 4:40am

Protest is one thing; bad manners are just, well, rude. There is no excuse for rudeness, especially not in the name of democracy. Unfortunately, we have ruffians like lawmaker Wong Yuk-man as role models for young people.

Take, for example, the behaviour of a minority of graduating students at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts this week. Don't get me wrong. It's perfectly fine for young people to fight for democracy and oppose the government. But they might consider doing it with style, dignity and manners. And indeed, many did so at the graduation ceremony for 276 students of the academy officiated by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the target of their protests. I think those who raised the cards in unison from the audience that said "I want real universal suffrage" were perfectly fine and dignified. Also those who refused to be capped by Leung as part of the graduation ceremony did their part and were within their right to do so.

But then there were those who gave him the middle finger, who crossed their arms in his face, who bowed three times to him as a gesture to the dead; and - this was a classic - the one who turned his buttocks against Leung. I was relieved he didn't take off his pants to "moon" the chief executive. Being rude to our leaders has become de rigueur for many young protesters, including many from our most prestigious schools and universities. When you are convinced you are absolutely right and government officials are completely wrong or worse, evil, it's natural you would treat them with contempt. But it's always a good idea to be less certain about one's rightness and look at things from the other person's viewpoint. To show contempt is easy; to understand is much harder. Disagreement does not mean you have the right to offend with impunity.

Instead of people like Wong and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, I suggest young people look to the civilising models of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Liu Xiaobo . These icons of human rights and liberty opposed the most brutal injustice and oppression with poise, wit and dignity. Young people should learn not only from their courage, but also their wisdom, good manners and civilised behaviour.