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.
Hunger-strike pupils dismiss C.Y.’s visit as ‘a stunt’
A group of secondary school pupils camping outside the government headquarters dismissed the chief executive’s visit on Friday morning as “merely a stunt”.
The members of the protest group Scholarism said they were unimpressed by Leung Chun-ying’s lack of concern for three of their members who are on the second day of a 72-hour hunger strike.
About 20 tents housing some 80 students set up camp outside the government headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty, on Thursday night in their latest move against the introduction of the national education curriculum when the new school term starts on Monday.
Three students – Lily Wong Lee-lee, Ivan Lam Long-yin, and another who prefers only to be known as Kaiser – started their hunger strike on Thursday.
The chief executive, Education Minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim and the director of the chief executive’s office Edward Yau Tang-wah, visited the students at around 8am on Friday.
Scholarism’s convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung asked Leung why the government would not scrap the national education curriculum when many teachers and students were against it.
“Does Leung’s government respect teachers?” Wong asked. “Why does the government make the situation so bad that even teenagers have to go on hunger strike?”
Leung responded by saying the curriculum was school-based, and the government would not push forward any teaching material, only references to schools. The chief executive held out his hand to Wong, who responded by bowing. Ng remained silent during the whole visit.
Wong was disappointed with the visit, saying Leung only repeated statements he had made previously.
“Students going on hunger strike is not something petty,” he said. “But he didn’t even ask about them. Even if his visit was only a stunt, how can he expect the public to trust him?”
Lily Wong was also unhappy about Leung’s visit because he did not even talk to the hunger strikers. “He did not ask about our physical condition, and only talked to Joshua Wong,” she said.
She said although she felt hungry at times, she was confident that she could complete the 72-hour strike.
On Thursday she explained that the strikers were “giving up the most basic necessity – food – to show the government our steadfastness in demanding the curriculum be withdrawn”.
The students had a soggy start to the day on Friday morning as rain had soaked their tents.
“We hope they are dry by tonight, and we will be better prepared if it rains again tonight,” Lily Wong said.
About 200 people attended a forum organised by the group on Thursday night.