The Hong Kong government has sought since 2007 to introduce "national education" courses into primary and secondary school curriculum, aimed at strengthening students' "national identity awareness" and nurturing patriotism towards China. The programme has met with increasing public opposition in recent years, with many in Hong Kong seeing it as a brainwashing attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to suppress dissent.
Letters to the Editor, September 06, 2012
Critics of new subject are so intolerant
We are hearing a lot of talk about brainwashing by the new moral and national education syllabus. But who is doing the brainwashing? Do those small children who attend demonstrations really understand what they are protesting about, or are they being brainwashed by politicians, some teachers or even some parents?
Have the demonstrators read the book? I could not find a copy but read the summary and could not see anything that sets out to brainwash.
There will be no government examination, so no learning by heart.
There will be discussions encouraging students to think at various stages of their lives, allowing them to decide for themselves what is good for them and for the world.
When I was a young student in England, we had plenty of brainwashing about the glory of the British empire.
Religious schools still teach the correctness of their own religion, to the point of brainwashing.
There was plenty of brainwashing of Hong Kong students under British colonial rule. I remember how some adults wept when they heard Hong Kong would return to China in 1997. Had they been brainwashed to the point that they did not want to be Chinese?
I believe children should not be brainwashed on either religion or politics, before they are old enough to decide for themselves.
The summary of the book on moral and national education teaches the necessity for children to understand what is right and wrong, how to interact with other nationals, teaching necessary in this era when "anything goes" in moral standards.
I believe many Hong Kong people are afraid to express their thoughts about the new national education subject because the critics are totally intolerant of any views but their own.
That attitude is the root of dictatorship. Let us practise democracy, not dictatorship of one group.
Elsie Tu, Kwun Tong
Hunger strike is not the best form of protest
I refer to the report, "Thousands rally against national education lessons" (September 2).
The government has yet to respond in the way the hunger strikers (protesting over the introduction of moral and national education) expected. They have talked about more aggressive action if the administration does not withdraw its plans.
I support the stand taken by the Scholarism group [of student activists] that national education lessons are a form of brainwashing. There is biased content in lesson guides.
But I think there are other ways to make your views known to the administration than by taking the radical action of a hunger strike, especially when it might have a detrimental effect on the health of teenagers.
The protesters could instead hand in a petition or organise further demonstrations.
Yu Ho-yat, Lam Tin
No consensus yet reached in HK society
I was pleased to learn that 77 Hong Kong primary schools have "'strongly stated' they will not introduce national education in the next three years, according to a parent group's survey" ("Schools say no to national education", August 31).
However, some schools will go ahead with the new subject in this academic year and follow the curriculum guide suggested by the government. I find this decision to be irresponsible.
The new subject remains controversial and the problems connected with it are still unsolved.
As yet, there is no consensus in society regarding its implementation.
I think because of this there will be a lot of confusion surrounding the subject in schools.
John Wu, Kwun Tong
Cyclists get short shrift in urban areas
I refer to your editorial ("Put HK sport on the fast track", August 24) about capitalising on the glory of our athletes to promote community sports in Hong Kong. Interestingly, our cyclist athletes are doing particularly well in international races. But back in Hong Kong, the government is dragging its feet in promoting this sport.
There is no allowance for cycling in the urban areas, and this results in many casualties. Contrast this with, for example, central London. The traffic is as busy as in Hong Kong, if not busier, and there are cycling tracks alongside busy streets.
In addition, cycling is allowed in Hyde Park, in the heart of London.
Imagine how the authorities here would react if we asked them to open up Victoria Park for use by cyclists.
There are also problems for mountain biking enthusiasts.
They are banned from most parts of our beautiful country parks.
When objections are raised, officials point out that there are dedicated cycling trails. But I wonder if they realise that some of these trails are in very remote parts of Hong Kong, and some of them are simply not suitable for cycling because of the rough terrain.
The roads around High Island Reservoir, such as Sai Kung Man Yee Road, are very suitable for cycling. They used to be accessible to cyclists until a ban was imposed. This runs contrary to promotion of community sport.
The government should be trying to encourage participation in such activities, but it can only do so if it adopts a more sport-friendly attitude.
Paul Mak, Central
Unreasonable to insist on 2-year contract
The only reason I subscribe to iCable is because I like watching English soccer.
Knowing that it only has one year left on its English Premier League broadcasting contract, I asked it if I could take out a one-year subscription; iCable replied that it only provided two-year contracts.
This didn't seem fair, so I contacted the Office of the Communications Authority, which took no action, presumably believing that the situation was reasonable and fine.
Like many expatriates, I might well only have one more year in Hong Kong, so this time next year I might find myself in the ridiculous position of paying to watch the English soccer on iCable when it is not fact there, and when I am not in Hong Kong anyway.
If anyone from any of the relevant authorities reads this letter and thinks iCable's policy is fair and reasonable, I would love to read their explanation through these columns.
Warren Russell, Tseung Kwan O
Cross-section of parental views vital
A survey by the Federation of Youth Groups has revealed that many adolescents have misconceptions about sex and relationships.
This indicates that sex education in our schools is flawed. The government should take prompt action to improve the situation.
It is essential that the views of parents from different backgrounds, including those who are not professionals, should be sought. Also, there should be close co-operation between parents and teachers.
I think parent representatives should view all the relevant teaching materials before they are shown to students.
In Mexico and the Philippines, after a film was shown to the students in sex education lessons, the parents were irritated as they believed that what their children had been shown was a pornographic animation. It would not have been aired if parents had been able to view it in advance.
Secondly, the government should incorporate real cases in sex education. For instance, students who had experience of teenage pregnancy could share their feelings.
This would be more effective than simply providing statistics relating to sex education, such as, for example, the fact that a small percentage of condoms will be damaged.
It is important that sex education classes should be monitored to ensure they are effective.
For example, the government could choose three or four schools which would have sex education and other institutions which would not.
After a year, it could then test the differences between the two groups of students regarding their attitudes to sex and relationships. Officials could then gauge the effectiveness of the classes.
Rebecca Sze Po-po, Ma On Shan
Immigration queues will deter visitors
There has been criticism of the decision by Shenzhen to allow multiple-entry visas to Hong Kong for those who are not hukou [residency permit] holders.
For the firm I work for, it is good news. We have offices in Hong Kong and Shekou. If one of our non-permanent-resident Shenzhen employees wants to go to Hong Kong for a meeting it is always troublesome getting a visa. Now this is finally over.
People need not fear Hong Kong being overrun by 4.1 million extra visitors. On any given day, the waiting time on the Hong Kong side of immigration for visitors is already two hours.
With additional visitors, this will easily go up to six hours. What better deterrent does Hong Kong need to keep the unwanted visitors out even though we love their money?
Jeffrey Kuperus, Clear Water Bay