How one school is harmed by media circus
Our Lady’s College has become the centre of shameless media attention because of the independence advocacy of a few, who disregarded regulations and disrupted the lives of others
A group of students hand out fliers without permission in their secondary school and put a copy on the desk of every one of their classmates. School authorities warn them not to do it again. In the following weeks, they switch to putting up banners and passing out the same copies, with the support of outsiders, at the main entrance and the street outside their school. They are then advised not to wear school uniforms while doing it and to avoid disturbing fellow students and parents visiting the school. This is especially a busy time as the school is celebrating its 65th anniversary with an open house this week.
For the life of me, I cannot tell in what way the school has done wrong. I would not even consider it a news story, certainly not something worth commenting on. The school did not punish or even reprimand those students. However, those fliers are about Hong Kong independence, produced and handed out by students who openly advocate it.
Suddenly, the unfortunate school, Our Lady’s College in Wong Tai Sin, becomes a political news story. Its authorities are accused by the student group, which calls itself Our Lady’s Localist Concern Group, of censoring and brainwashing students with the ban on fliers. Such accusations are duly repeated and exaggerated by anti-China publications such as Apple Daily and Stand News.
I don’t blame the student activists; young people will always be full of passion and enthusiasm rather than sense and restraint. I only wish they had been more tolerant and respectful of others. But it’s the shameless manner in which the “yellow ribbon” media have invented, exploited and manipulated what ought to concern only the school itself into a political struggle. Activists shout slogans with loudhailers outside the school, then news photographers show up, along with the police.
In the current affairs section of lihkg.com, a popular online forum, there is an excellent account and critical analysis of what actually happened, written by a student of the school. She explains how her activist classmates disregarded school regulations, disrupted classroom routines, denounced teachers who tried to stop them for political censorship, and dismissed schoolmates who disagreed with them as being “brainwashed”.
“Many of us support democracy and the rule of law, yet we may still disapprove of your actions,” she wrote of her activist schoolmates. “This doesn’t mean we have been brainwashed and cannot think for ourselves.”
This student does her school proud.