• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 8:09pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 4:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 4:01am

Hong Kong students protest too much over Occupy Central

Dostoevsky poses an eternal, unanswerable question at the start of Crime and Punishment: why do so many university students commit to radical politics when they could have made far better use of their time enriching their mind and soul by focusing on their studies?

When I was a foreign college student in the US, I got involved in leftist politics supporting causes like those of the Palestinians and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Luckily, those were the liberal Ronald Reagan years. Today, they would have sent me to Guantanamo Bay. My involvement was pretty much a waste of time, including skipping classes. If only I had used that time to read the Thucydides, Tacitus and Machiavelli that was on my course list, I would have learned much more about politics, government and history than shouting slogans and waving banners at protests. But youth is always wasted on the young.

I am disappointed that our university elders are so cowed by our young pan-democrat Red Guards that they are going out of their way to express support for them over class boycotts as part of Occupy Central. Some lecturers at the University of Hong Kong and Polytechnic University are planning to reschedule classes to fit the protesting students' timetables.

Wait a minute. If you have a beef with the central government or the Hong Kong government, fine, go protest outside the liaison office or in Admiralty. Go occupy Central or Mong Kok. But do it in your own time.

Law lecturer Benny Tai Yiu-ting once told me he was doing all his Occupy stuff outside work, in his own time. I take his word for it, and if you plan on following him, you should follow his example too.

Some universities are also offering free legal advice if student protesters get into trouble. Well, let their parents or the Legal Aid Department pay for it. If you break the law, you pay the price. Publicly funded universities have no right to waste taxpayer dollars that way. Taxpayers already provide three out of every four dollars spent on a local undergraduate.

Senior educators should have the guts to tell those young protesters: as young adults, you are free to do what you like. But accept the consequences if your education suffers.

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This article is now closed to comments

caractacus
Alex, you show signs of patronising, middle aged, middle class stuffiness and pomposity. It might just be that the students' mentors agree with their idealism and questioning of the values of their society. They are intelligent young people and are not fooled by the sham democracy being foisted upon HK. It is absolutely right that before they are weighed down and cowed by responsibiities and the tyrannical influence of crony capitalism they should make their voices heard.
raglan
Let me attempt to answer Dostoevsky's question -
20 yr olds are by nature rebellious and ambitious with something to prove, we were all like that. Having made it into uni or having graduated, they think they're on top of the world, when they actually are still ignorant babies, their world view is limited and have no skills, but at the same time they're frustrated by perceived injustice and limits of upward mobility. They are still impressionable, easy victims of cognitive biases, thus they resort to the things that they do, no different to a 3-yr old throwing a temper over toys or candy.....
davidsum
I agree with this article.
As a HK born Chinese living oversea for the last few years, it sad to see HK becoming a political battle ground. All these so called Democrat use the western countries such as UK (Where I am now) as benchmark for their goal is totally misguided. For your information, as a Conserbative supporter I do not like David Cameron, but I have no choice as he is elected by their party, just like CY Leung. I can vote who can be my MP (Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, UKIP etc), but I cannot vote Adam, my nice neighbour, as my MP because the MP are selected by the local grass root party which I am not a member. I can try and influence these member, but I have no say.
So what we have here is some small minority group of people have filtered candidates before I can vote. Does that sound familiar?.
So, my fellow HK people, please wake up and stop this nonsense. It so sad this misguided perception of democracy is affecting our next generation.
hm03
Can't believe this is coming out of the mouth of someone who claims to be studying in the UK... I don't even know where to start...
hm03
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hm03
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hm03
Can't believe this is coming out of the mouth of someone who claims to be studying in the UK... I don't even know where to start...
Formerly ******
So, then join the local party and don't be a clutz. How many people in the UK are arrested and murdered by the government while a prisoner? Your comparison is so sophomoric, that it's just too much to try to address all of your misstatements of facts and misconceptions.
所以,然後加入當地的党,不是 clutz。有多少人在英國被捕並被囚犯時政府謀殺嗎?您的對比是如此誤人子弟,它是只是太多,試圖解決所有你虛假陳述的事實和誤解。
Formerly ******
@ davidsum:
Yeah, look how democracy ruined the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada and post-WWII Western Europe, S. Korea, the Republic of China, Japan, Singapore, India, etc. Are you seriously implying that today, these nations are worse off for being democracies?
It seems to me, my friend, that the "misguided perception" should be applied to authoritarianism and its terroristic and violent subset, communism, as these should be your concern, especially since, according to the Black Book of Communism, the commies murdered over 100 million people in less than 90 years. Think about this stat. That's murdering an average of 10 million people a year.
Sheesh, pal, there's your misguidedness.' Yeah, i know, it ain't a word.
@ davidsum:
是的看看如何民主毀了美國、 英國、 澳大利亞、 紐西蘭和加拿大和二戰後西歐、 韓國、 中國、 日本、 新加坡、 印度等。你在暗示嚴重今天,這些國家都被民主國家更糟嗎?
它對我來說,我的朋友,,"誤導感知"應適用于威權主義,其恐怖和暴力的子集,共產主義,作為這些應該是你的關心,特別是因為,根據共產主義本黑色的書,共產黨人在謀殺了超過 1 億人少於 90 年。想想這個屬性。這就謀殺平均一 1000 年萬人。
哎,老兄,還有你的 misguidedness.'是的我知道,不是一個詞。
philpaul
Law lecturer Benny Tai Yiu-ting once told me he was doing all his Occupy stuff outside work, in his own time. I take his word for it, and if you plan on following him, you should follow his example too.
- As an academic I assure you there is no such thing as 'his own time outside work'. We live academia 24/7.
Some universities are also offering free legal advice if student protesters get into trouble. Well, let their parents or the Legal Aid Department pay for it. If you break the law, you pay the price. Publicly funded universities have no right to waste taxpayer dollars that way. Taxpayers already provide three out of every four dollars spent on a local undergraduate.
- Universities are offering free legal advice surely in the form of internal staff or law students. I cannot imagine HKU paying for outside legal assistance.
Senior educators should have the guts to tell those young protesters: as young adults, you are free to do what you like. But accept the consequences if your education suffers.
- Absolutely.

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