Provisional legislator David Chu Yu-lin has come across to many people as unconventional, but his recent letters to two universities complaining about their academic staff, who disagreed with him, are nothing but old-fashioned bullying tactics. The recent row between Mr Chu and the Chinese University's Professor Richard Baum and Tim Hamlett of the Baptist University was triggered by the lawmaker's recent column (in the South China Morning Post ) on patriotic education. In his column on July 10, Mr Chu referred to 'how the teaching of history and indeed Chinese culture [in Hong Kong] was either discouraged or distorted to cater for colonial expediency' under British rule. In his view, Professor Baum's criticism against him showed the don was not qualified to lecture Chinese people on patriotism. But in my view, on reading what Mr Chu has written in this newspaper, I think he is as alien, if not more so, to the local education scene as he thinks Professor Baum is. Unlike Mr Chu who grew up in America, I was born and bred in Hong Kong and received all my education here, from kindergarten through to university. I believe I am qualified to correct some of Mr Chu's misconceptions. It is true that under the colonial system, we were never taught about patriotism or anything like national identity and national pride, but by asserting that 'local students had been taught by the powers that be to admire slavishly whatever was British and to loathe whatever was indigenous' (Post, August 1) Mr Chu is holding many of our fine teachers in contempt. As a beneficiary, or in Mr Chu's eyes a victim, of the local colonial education system, I cannot recall in the whole of my school life being taught that Britain was great and colonial rule superb. Quite the contrary, I had a few good teachers of Chinese, Chinese history and arts who always tried to stimulate students' interest in and appreciation of Chinese literature, arts and culture. Under the old system, Hong Kong students were not taught about contemporary China, but we did have compulsory Chinese history lessons whereas British history only took up a portion of our study of world history. But most outrageous is Mr Chu's declaration in his column that Hong Kong students were taught 'to obey rather than initiate, to listen rather than initiate, to listen rather than think and to have self-doubt rather than self-confidence'. This is an insult to all of us who were educated here. If Hong Kong students were not taught to initiate and to think independently, we should not have such a superb class of locally trained professionals and managers. If we were not educated in an environment which fostered self-confidence, public opinion polls would not consistently find that more individuals are inclined to identify themselves as Hong Kong people rather than Chinese. Mr Chu may not like colonial rule and may have a strong urge to liberate many young souls so they will build a strong Chinese national identity, but that should be done through rational debate and persuasion instead of rhetoric. If it is indeed Mr Chu's wish that our students should be taught to think independently instead of blindly obeying what they are lectured, he should welcome the academics' challenges because it is the presentation of arguments that stimulate students to think and judge. No doubt by now Mr Chu has realised that muffling dissenting voices only hampers the healthy development of our education system. Such a heavy-handed approach is also out of step with modern-day education. It is good news that Mr Chu has on reflection decided to apologise to the academics.