• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 1:50pm
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

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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This article is now closed to comments

nmp_inc
Lam is fronting an undemocratic government which is increasingly authoritarian. She is the front person for a chief executive who increasingly cannot show his face in public without provoking anger and demonstrations. So, in this context, in the position of Chief Secretary yes she is an appropriate protest target. If she does not agree with the government policies then she should step down. Whether or not the forum for the students protests was the most suitable is obviously up for debate since the SAR Government is pursuing policies that affect the students in their everyday lives and seriously impacting their future opportunities. Why should they be 'polite' if the government is not going to be 'polite.'? One bad turn typically leads to another in return. Perhaps the government should reexamine its public engagement and policies from the peoples' perspective instead of vested financial and political groups.
pliu
Well said Alex! Selfish and disrespectful of some APA students. They have brought shame to the HKAPA, their teachers and parents!
321manu
You've made a reasonable argument for all the wrong reasons.
If those graduates showed up in beach attire, they would've mocked the entire ceremony process. They didn't do that. They played the part of respectful graduates, with the exception of not showing respect to someone who they presumably didn't think deserved it. I think that's great...better than bland conformity and mindlessly toeing the line.
321manu
If Lam is out for dinner and these students did that to her, THAT would be indefensible and reprehensible.
But when she is present at a commencement ceremony in her capacity as a government official, and acting as a government representative, she is fair game for protest.
Respect is earned. These students are adults. There should be no expectation that, just because she's Carrie Lam, she deserves respect, unless she's earned it. Clearly, in the eyes of those 100 some odd students, she hasn't. You sure can't blame them. And it is well within their rights to express it, especially in the peaceful manner with which they did so.
Sometimes, I wonder if Mr. Lo is a product of a 19th century upbringing, with his penchant for rigid social conservatism. I mean, how on earth did the individual protesting students sully the celebration for others who chose not to participate? When each grad strides across the stage, that is their individual shining moment. They can do with that moment as they see fit. I would find it offensive if a graduate's proud walk across the stage was interrupted by somebody else's antics, because that would truly be depriving that grad (and his or her family) of the moment they deserve. But if a grad chooses to use his/her moment on stage to protest, power to him/her. And that certainly doesn't "hijack the WHOLE ceremony". Mr. Lo needs to ease off the hyperbole.
Sometimes, his desire to stand with government types gets in the way of his cognition.
Dai Muff
Respect is earned. Not given freely. It would be indefensible of the APA students not to protest an indefensible government.
johnyuan
Commencement is a moment in time for the graduating class and individuals to be conferred of their successful achievements by the institution they attended. It is the last chance for the institution to exert any authority over the students. For the most daring, seizing that moment to express oneself against real or perceived unwarranted authority it is only more a mark of maturity than incivility.
.
The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, having no choice but obeying the rule and tradition picked a government official to head the commencement. The incidence of government’s disapproval of one of the students’ public performance must still hang fresh in students’ mind.
.
The school should have foreseen the coming and avoid inviting the government official so to let the students have a happy memory of the very important day that belongs to them precisely.
.
I will not be so harsh to those students who have shown their real self.
.
Not the least, this comment coming from AL is really most unconvincing.
syn
Respect doesn't come from occupying a position of power, it has to be earned, Mr. Lo.
321manu
Fair enough. Just as Lam shouldn't assume she has the students' respect, neither should those students assume they have yours. BTW, there is no "if".
The one argument that might make some sense, if you were Mr. Lo, is to argue about respect for the office, rather than respect for the occupant of that office. Lam is completely deserving of all the mockery that she receives, but one might try to argue that the head of commencement ceremonies should be afforded some respect. It's not a great argument, but certainly better than "(Lam) is a person of integrity".
pslhk
If HKers of 1950-70s were like those conceited fools
the city today would be like Liverpool, England’s poorest city,
but without fluent english, so Juba is more like it
poverty in material development
and rich in fighting spirit
-
Good students in normal schools usually learn before graduation
that as part of the mainstream between Einstein and Shakespeare
the most important lessons are respect for peers and proportionality
Only these not even also-rans lack of self-understanding
are carried away by their own conceited ignorance
mistaking awkwardness as achievement
-
In protests, from those trained in performing arts
we’d expect subtle expressions to deliver strong messages with finesse
But these brutes seem to have graduated unlearnt
They haven’t learnt to ask the simple and obvious questions:
are those they choose to enjoy showing contempt really so bad
and what they could do in the shoes of those they “enjoy” deriding
if they HAD the ability to step in the shoes of their better
-
Performing arts may be a different kettle of fish
Stories are never weird enough about students of Juilliard School
such as placing blades in competitor’s keyboard
That’s sibling rivalry
But now these performing “art” specialists
are expressing strong views on areas where they’re quite ignorant
-
With “artists” like these and if life imitates their “art”
LKS and those who've helped build and care about HK
have good reasons to lose sleep worrying
pslhk
I just might call it classy if the graduates
who crossed their arms scholarism style
showed their vacuous stares in doped manner
and stage frighten into front back disorientation
had the integrity to protest in t-shirts and jeans
-
But they chose to don gown and four cornered cap
the showy vanity they desired from tradition
but not the responsibility that comes with it
-
I’ve never put on graduation gown and cap
because I didn’t understand what they mean
and still can’t buy any of the meanings they affect

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