Keep Hong Kong schools out of political shenanigans

If youngsters want to be politically committed it is up to them, but other students also have the right to be left in peace so they can learn

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 2:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 2:28am

Young people may demand democracy, Hong Kong independence or fight the government for alleged corruption and failing the city. I can understand their impulse.

What baffles me is why, to fight for those goals, so many have decided to take on their own schools and go after their teachers in the hope of turning educational institutions into political battlegrounds. Most students are there to study and learn, not to carry out political struggle.

Teachers ‘stop pupils handing out independence fliers at school’

Less than two weeks ago, several students invited undercover reporters to cover their protest against the proposed national anthem law at their graduation at Hong Kong College of Technology. After the students were kicked out, they confronted the college head, thereby giving the reporters the headline they needed. It became such a big news story – I don’t know why – that some paparazzi even tailed the principal and his family members for several days as if it were a major political scandal.

In the past few months, a handful of students at Our Lady’s College in Wong Tai Sin, an all-girls secondary school, have been advocating Hong Kong independence on campus by handing out fliers and disrupting school anniversary events. When they were told not to do it, they invited the news media and cried political censorship.

The doings of such students are not accidental. Under two groups called Studentlocalism and Hong Kong National Front, which openly advocate the city going it alone from the mainland, separatist student groups at 18 schools and universities, possibly more, have been set up this year alone. Their express agenda is to bring separatism into campuses, not just at universities and colleges, but also secondary schools – and not just for discussion, but as a political cause, described in their own literature as “the only option” for Hong Kong.

Students vow to revive independence bid in Hong Kong schools

Now if young students want to be politically committed, who are we to stop them? But there are many places to do it. How about in front of government buildings or the residence of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at Government House?

There is no obvious relationship between advocating for a political cause and disrupting whatever school you happen to be a student at. Don’t other students have the right to be left in peace? No wonder the Education Bureau, usually the government department I have the least respect for, has instructed schools not to tolerate separatist activities; and mainland-funded scholarships now require applicants to swear by their patriotism.