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  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:10pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Disrespectful Hong Kong students a disgrace

Mak Kwok Wah is appalled by events at Lingnan and arts academy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 3:37am

A trait of Chinese parents everywhere is their determination to provide their children with the best education they can afford. But for the huge numbers of refugee families who poured across the border from China in the 1950s and 1960s, education for their sons and daughters was just a dream, crammed as they were into squalid squatter settlements dotting hillsides on either side of the harbour.

Eventually relief came in the shape of government-funded resettlement estates. Better still, they also fulfilled parents' dreams by providing makeshift schools for their children - built on the rooftops of the five- or six-storey resettlement blocks.

Lacking air-conditioning, they were hot and muggy in summer and desperately cold in winter. Primitive? Indeed - but both parents and children cherished them for the learning they provided.

And, in time, those squatter families, especially the children, provided the muscle, sweat and ingenuity that helped to create the Hong Kong success story. Prosperity enabled Hong Kong to modernise both its infrastructure and its educational facilities, such as new universities. But the catch about university education was that while many aspired to it, few could afford it.

So the government sensibly introduced a student loan scheme to ensure that no eligible student would be denied tertiary education.

Over the decades, the scheme has been extended to include non-means-tested loans, deferral of tuition fees, introduction of grants, student travel subsidies and even a system of appeals if loans are rejected.

Thanks to this scheme, tens of thousands of Hong Kong parents have been able to reach the pinnacle of their hopes for their sons or daughters, as they watch them receive their degree. That degree will be a passport to a successful career and a happy, prosperous life.

The reviews are in and their performance has been judged a complete and shameful disgrace

Now let us turn from this idyllic picture to the harsh realities of recent incidents involving some tertiary students. At Lingnan University, some of them insultingly refused to recognise their new president, Professor Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon, while at the Academy for Performing Arts, a brat pack wanting universal suffrage transformed its graduation ceremony into an outrageous charade, targeting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who is the academy's president. The rudest insult came from one whippersnapper who gave three low bows to Leung, the ceremonial gesture accorded the dead.

Let us assume that most of those students received their tertiary education thanks to student loans funded by our taxes. Rather than treasuring this honour and privilege, they behaved like common louts, at a ceremony marking what should have been the proudest moment in their lives.

Thankfully, not all joined in. Also, it is to be hoped that offenders' parents told them they had brought shame and dishonour not only on themselves but their families, too.

Meanwhile, since the protest sprang from a burning local political issue, it might be thought that the protesters had studied political science and history, and had some foundation for their actions. Not so - they are budding actors, artists and the like. In a way, this is an odd choice because performing companies cannot survive without government subsidies.

Perhaps what we witnessed was the first "performance" by the Class of 2013? Well, the reviews are in and their performance has been judged a complete and shameful disgrace that will take many years for the participants to live down. The best advice we can give them is: grow up.

A final point - will there be a much-warranted humble apology, or is that, too, out of the question?

Mak Kwok Wah is a public affairs consultant


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This article is now closed to comments

These young people have been badly brain-washed! They believe that their belief in their version of democracy justifies anything, including their right to be rude.
Students like these are disgracing themselves and Hong Kong; this is not the way to act.
On the contrary, I don't find them shameful at all rather I find that the way they demonstrated their anger against the administration effective and somewhat satisfying.
True, some people might consider their gestures distasteful (3 bows and the finger) and this can be attributed to their young age but I believe their methods and purpose were completely valid (they are actors... they are supposed to dramatize!)
We have to also understand that the graduates themselves did not have the luxury to choose who presents their awards at the graduation ceremony and given the choice I believe many won't have agreed to CY being there.
I personally don't believe in this respect-the-elderly bullsh_t mandated by a stagnant and out-dated Quasi-religion (confucianism) and it's all too frequently taken advantage of by unscrupulous people. I only respect those who deserves my respect.
Not disrespectful, but the students are gutsy, it takes courage to stand up for what they believe in,
and this article is explaining difficulties of past and asking young generation to be thankful to what they get! but fail to understand, The govt's job is for the people, and the people's work generates revenue for them to spend, and pocket as corruption too. Govt is not doing them a favour by making universities and development.
We need more free thinking youngsters and less robotic people who live like slaves.
I had felt a certain degree of sympathy for HK's youth these days until I saw this photo. Now I think the relative and purported harsh reality HK graduates face is what they really deserve. Protests staged by these ungrateful individuals in whatever noble-sounding causes or in whatever vulgar or outlandish ways only show us the cowardice of this generation of losers (HK and Macao only). Shame on you!
The tradition of respecting reflexes the level of moral and civilization of a community and its people. These scenes reported above make the quality of Hong Kong education and social value doubtful. It is also questionable that whether a citizen, received tertiary education in a honorable university, who could not recognize and defend the city's common value, and disgraces the image of the international metropolis, would be eligible to take upon the responsibility of participating in a suffrage.
Yes, that student was disrespectful to the C.E.
His action might be the result of the fact that the Authorities are perceived as imposed on the people and frequently appear as disrespectful to the opinion of the people.
What happened to the Chinese tradition of 尊師重道?I await to see what the employment prospects are for this generation of rude, offensive, stupid students. Those who don't appreciate their places as students can always leave, instead of pretending that they are better than their betters.
There must be reason for this, these scholars are no more kids. its a sign of protest, CY and Uni should learn to be respected first, CY has already lost his integrity by how he won his election, so who gonna respect such hypo?
It's ok, Foxtrot. You didn't honestly expect these kids to actually have anything meaningful to contribute to anything at all (e.g. society?), now or in the future, did you? No point getting worked up over a few brats misguidingly forgetting/ignoring that education is a privilege, not a right (and I don't care whether you paid for it or not... it's still a privilege. No one OWES you an education.).


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