Heung To Middle School students 'not attending' unlawful assembly in 1967

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 3:36am

I refer to the report ("Seeking common ground on '67 riots", July 28) which requires clarification.

Referring to Heung To Middle School, the article says "classmates and a teacher were arrested for attending an unlawful assembly". I was one of the students near the scene and the students arrested by the police on that day were not attending an unlawful assembly.

In 1967 on every school day, many students and teachers crossed the rail line between their homes and school.

Today's To Yuen Street playground and Parc Oasis were farmland and a small hill. In between the hill there was a catchwater and a path.

There were two fence exits. One known as the high fence was near To Fuk Road and the low fence was near Rutland Quadrant.

Due to a left-wing workers' strike, students preferred to walk rather than take the bus to school.

Around 6pm, after a school assembly, many students, including me, went home through the catchwater to the high fence and low fence.

As I walked along the catchwater some students coming in the other direction shouted at us to turn back as there was a serious incident at the high fence.

I later learned that senior students and a teacher had rushed to the scene to see what had happened.

Police vehicles were parked at the high fence and before they [the students] could reach it they were arrested as were others following behind.

In those days, To Fuk Road and Rutland Quadrant were so quiet there would have been no point organising an assembly. Two of my classmates heading back to Wong Tai Sin and Choi Hung were arrested. They were gentle youngsters and not so-called activists.

The lives of the 53 arrested (including students and one teacher) were transformed by their experience.

I agree with former senior superintendent James Elms that the bomb attacks in the 1967 riots were unlawful and tragic. However, I must emphasise that in the incident described in your report, students did not attend an "unlawful assembly".

The 1967 riots, on the one hand, were closely related to Mao Zedong's leftist Cultural Revolution on the mainland and an extension of the Macau riots of December 1966.

On the other hand they were a result of dissatisfaction felt over outdated colonial rule at that time, particularly when it came to the plight of the poor and the suppression of patriots supporting the People's Republic of China.

H. W. Chow, Tsing Yi