It’s in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, it’s in the newspapers of Washington DC and Chicago, and it’s probably everywhere else. Tens of thousands of Hongkongers and their kids march in the blazing sun to protest communist brainwashing of innocent little schoolchildren.
Common sense says the government, which has pressing housing, welfare and pollution problems to solve, should simply scrap the Moral and National Education initiative. Like so many of its incompetent predecessor’s policies, it’s a lemon – badly thought-through and badly presented. What could have been (and in many ways probably is) a minor and innocuous, largely symbolic, addition to the school curriculum is now increasing opposition to Chief Executive CY Leung and his new administration. With Legislative Council elections looming, no political party will give the local leadership much support on this issue. Incredibly, MNE is also having the effect of deepening local distrust of the national government in Beijing. It’s a mess.
But top officials are trying to sail though it as if it’s no big deal. Whip up a quick committee of stakeholders, and everything will be fine, right? The problem is that something that isn’t a big deal (like a pointless weekly class on a clumsily named ungraded subject) becomes a big deal if and when enough people believe it is one. And when 32,000/90,000 people march for a specific cause, it has become a big deal. With the protestors boycotting the committee before it has even been assembled, it is not going to revert to being a small deal.
As a patriot with Communist ties himself, CY Leung would find it difficult to back down on national education, even though it would go down well and he could blame it all on ex-CE Donald Tsang. Ironically, it may fall to Beijing’s local emissaries in the Liaison Office to give him a call and tell him to drop it, on the grounds that the plan to develop warm and fuzzy feelings towards the nation and its rulers is having the precise opposite effect.
The Washington Post quotes a lone patriot railing at the ‘British devils’ marching yesterday. The MNE affair is widening the great gap between this city’s minority pro-Beijing and majority pro-Hong Kong cultures. The grisly visage of Miriam Lau, Liberal Party candidate on Hong Kong Island, greeted commuters alighting the Mid-Levels Escalator a few mornings ago, loudly demanding a suspension of MNE. She is driven by cynical electoral reasons, plus spite for CY Leung, but she also seems to have at least a shred of sympathy with the popular fears MNE has sparked. The Liberals have always been quick to shoeshine Beijing if it might help their business, but if forced to choose, they can’t bring themselves to come out in favour of brainwashing.
Are genuinely pro-Beijing Hongkongers born or made? My hunch is that it runs in the family (patriots have long formed a distinct and often unpopular community in the Big Lychee). But I sometimes wonder how inbred a cultural condition it is. Pro-Beijing types look like pro-Beijing types. The hairstyle, the spectacles, the grumpy, defiant, slightly brutish, ill-educated look on the face. Legislator Ma Fung-kwok, now running for the United Front-dominated Sports/Culture functional constituency, is in the movie industry and so is fairly photogenic. But just look at those supporters. It’s in the DNA.
“…a pointless weekly class on a clumsily named ungraded subject…”
It’s about time Hong Kong people knew something about the country they’re in. Very small-minded, insular people on the whole, don’t you think?
And the general knowledge of students is very poor.
Most parents object much more strongly to PE than they do to National education.
What’s the use of all that time running around building muscles you are never going to use?
I support the people’s right to have a protest march, but, having been stuck in traffic yesterday trying to get from Central to Wan Chai, could our Keystone Cops not do a much better job of traffic diversions? This was clusterf#cked from the get-go and the logistics officer who dropped the ball should be publicly flogged.
Given that the demonstrations now go to Tamar instead of Statue Square, why can’t the powers that be arrange alternate routes? Instead of leaving from Victoria Park and having to cross over Gloucester Road and the resulting traffic chaos that ensues, why not either arrange a starting point nearer to Tamar, say from the Ferry Piers, or just congregate there? Inconveniencing tens of thousands of people on surface mass transit, and the resulting grid-lock that backs-up near the Convention Centre roads, is just not kosher and it needs to be handled better in the future.
I can only make sense of the last but one comment if I assume it’s ironic.
It turns out there is one thing more worthless than MNE – Bela’s promise never to comment again on this blog…
Couldn’t govt just have renamed “Moral and National Education” initiative as “Chinese Historical Fiction” and left it at that?
Confucius say: Those who drive between Wanchai and Central on the day of a well-publicised major demonstration, when there is a perfectly usable subterranean railway between the two districts, can hardly be heard to use the word “clusterf*ck” in relation to the logistics planning of others.
@ Sir Crispin. The purpose of the march was to cause disruption, traffic delays and other inconvenience. That’s the point. In anycase the march organizer decides the kick off point, not the cops. Protestors are not going to take a short walk from ferry pier to the government HQ!
Having said that I made two trips to Hong Kong Station yesterday afternoon from North Point, dropping off departing visitors, and Gloucester Road was clear. Appears to me the arrangements were pretty good.
It wasn’t as big a clusterfuck as the Cultural Revolution.
I haven’t forgotten about the trellis! Questions remain to be answered.
Well Mary, when I left Central the roads were still open. The cops closed Queensway just as the bus was approaching. Had I known, I would have taken the MTR.
Quote of the day on this issue goes to low-level brown-noser Jiang Yudui of the China Civic Education Promotion Association of Hong Kong:
“A brain needs washing if there is a problem, just as clothes need washing if they’re dirty, and a kidney needs washing if it’s sick.”
Someone wash that guy’s nose, the fumes are making him demented.
You’re a big wet pussy!
Sir Crispin is a pretenious self important douche and should probably be ignored.
SC,Taking the Bus? oh dear oh deary me.
“Chinese historical fiction”? There’s 5000 years of that.
What’s a douche/douchebag anyway? Means ‘shower’ in French, non…?
Fuck me I spelled pretentious wrong!
Probably because you are the product of an American education, Peter. You inbred, hillbilly trailer trash. Now fetch me some tea, peasant. Ah, turnabout is fair play.
Just shows how fucking out of touch the ‘elites’ are. Anyone who has a clue and reads quality journals like Apple Daily or Eastweek knows that this mainland stuff pisses off the middle classes.
Wasn’t there a [channeling The HK Standard here] ruckus, or even, gosh darn it, a rumpus about some idiot using simplified characters on a cafe menu?
And there was definitely an ‘uproar’ over D&G’s photography policies.
So what the fuck do you expect to happen when the government decides they’re going to force feed the whole ‘China’ thing to kids?