Hong Kong localism and independence

In post-Occupy Hong Kong, healing the political divide could start with teaching tolerance at school

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 5:18pm

In recent years, Hong Kong society has been polarised by issues such as the jailing of pro-democracy activists, the enactment of Article 23 legislation and the laws concerning the national anthem. The government’s decision to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party recently inflamed public opinion (“Hong Kong National Party ban divides opinion”, September 25) and brought to mind Kerry Kennedy’s article “Hong Kong schools must teach respect for different views to heal divides in society” (January 11).

Many Hongkongers manifest no tolerance for people who have distinct views from theirs. Some have even attacked their opponents physically. Hong Kong’s unique status as a special administrative region of China has made political controversies increasingly common.

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However, to create a civil society, people must respect differences of opinions and be willing to listen to ideas from other perspectives. Therefore, Kennedy suggests that the government should establish a common civic education curriculum at schools to enable students to listen to and evaluate others’ ideas. The curriculum could also facilitate community engagement, such as volunteering, so that a “social capital” can be created.

Young people today are especially prone to strong opinions on social issues. Some impulsively engage in radical political activities such as illegal protests and occupying public spaces. It would be great if they could learn how to respect distinct voices and find milder ways to complain.

 Carmen Lau, Lam Tin