My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 5:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 10:10am

It's indefensible for APA students to perform protest stunts

BIO

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.
 

Once may be excusable. A second time makes it indefensible.

The protest on Thursday against acting Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor tells us much about the quality and manners of students at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Graduating students pulled a similar stunt last year against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

More than 320 students graduated this year. About 100 reportedly took part in some forms of protest both on stage and off.

The ceremony was held for the graduating students. It not only formally conferred on them their hard-earned degrees; it was a celebration with fellow students, parents and teachers of their devotion, hard work and achievement. It was about you, the student. Lam was hardly the focus of the proceedings; she was there to perform a ceremonial duty as substitute chancellor while Leung was away on holiday.

So why did you ruin your own party? Did you consider the rights and wishes of your fellow students, parents and teachers who might prefer to treasure the occasion as a proud moment to remember, rather than one for protest?

I have nothing against young people starting protests against the government, especially for universal suffrage. But everything has a time and a place. The students could have protested against Lam outside the ceremonial hall, say, when she arrived or left. That would have been between her as a top government official and the protesters. But could it be right for those young people to hijack the whole ceremony for their own political agenda, however fervent their belief in their cause?

Lam did not deserve her treatment - she is a person of integrity. It is human to show contempt for your opponents. And that was what many students displayed towards Lam by crossing their arms, turning their behinds to her, staring her down and taking selfie photos before her. The hardest civic virtue is to show respect for those with whom you disagree.

Unfortunately, our populist politicians have only self-righteousness in their hearts and can only hear their own screams and shouts. All they have to teach young people are contempt and obstructionism. And our children are aping them.

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