Compulsory Chinese history needed for schools
According to some local media reports, this year is the first since 1989 that students and other young people have begun to show a declining interest in joining the annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park to commemorate the June 4, 1989 student demonstrations in Beijing.
Young Hongkongers born after that fateful date now seem more concerned about what is happening to them in Hong Kong and their chances of a better life in the future.
Sixteen years have gone by since Hong Kong's sovereignty was returned to China, yet many of these young people are still in a pre-1997 historical mindset as regards contemporary Chinese history, especially that from the second world war to the present. This period was for policy reasons studiously left out of the colonial government's primary and secondary school curriculum.
With the advent of elections by universal suffrage for the chief executive in 2017 and the legislature in 2020 respectively, it is imperative for the government to review the subject of teaching Chinese history by phases as a compulsory and independent subject in the primary and secondary school sectors.
In this regard, we suggest at the appropriate time an academically authoritative and independent source should be appointed to assist in the planning and co-ordinating of such a project.
For some years, the government has been promoting national education, by regularly sponsoring groups of young people to visit different parts of the mainland on orientation tours. This programme has been generally well received and should be expanded even further.
An international city like the Hong Kong SAR deserves to have an electorate whose young people have an appreciation of the momentous changes that are taking place in their own country, with its 1.3 billion people.
This is all the more desirable since voters will be electing for the first time their chief executive (in 2017) and legislative councillors (in 2020) by universal franchise.
A better knowledge of China's history will give the opportunity to our electorate hopefully to cast their votes for their leaders in 2017 and 2020 in a more balanced way that will be conducive to Hong Kong's economic and social development.
Hilton Cheong-Leen, president, Frederick Lynn, chairman, Hong Kong Civic Association