Beneath the turbulence of life in Hong Kong as Chief Executive CY Leung flagellates himself with the National Education whip, positive changes are afoot. We’ve had the City of Lifts initiative, which will install elevators and ramps to make it easier for the elderly and infirm to get around. Not exactly a manned lunar mission, but it’s the sort of thing a city government is supposed to do, and it’s more than CY’s predecessor Donald Tsang ever gave a damn about. On which subject, we’ve had the dumping of Sir Bow-Tie’s obsession with making health care a ‘pillar industry’. Hospitals will now be for Hong Kong people – a constituency the last administration saw as a nuisance.
The news this morning includes the government’s plan to reserve certain residential sites for Hong Kong permanent residents. It is just a gesture that will make little or no difference to anything in practice. But if applied on a much bigger scale, this idea could in theory give birth to a new category of housing: cut-price homes for families who want a place to live in rather than an overvalued asset to trade. It probably won’t come to that – the bubble real estate agents say we don’t have will go pop first. But the very principle would have been alien to the last government.
It’s a start. And these are relatively easy policies to unveil. Some others would be much harder; they would run up against vested interests or even provoke undue alarm and run into unexpected public opposition. Should our leaders stick to their guns and try to ram such initiatives through anyway?
Imagine a government announcement banning cars, vans and trucks from urban areas in daytime; imposing painfully high electronic pricing on all road use; rationing vehicle registrations; subsidizing clean new engines for all old trucks, buses and ferries; subsidizing replacement fleets of electric vehicles. Imagine the squeals from outraged drivers of black seven-seater SUVs who want to clog up the side streets. Imagine the protests – hunger strikes, even – of shop owners unable to take deliveries during the day. Imagine the tut-tutting of economists and bureaucrats nervous about dipping into the fiscal reserves. And imagine how clean the air and how spacious our downtown areas would be.
That would be worth bitter struggle, bloody-minded refusal to make concessions, dismissal of protesters as misguided, division, disharmony, even dips in the public opinion ratings if that’s what it takes. In order to clean the air. But in order to introduce a silly hour-a-week Moral & National Education class in schools for the sake of appearances? What a waste.
The Standard’s ‘Mary Ma’ column makes one of its occasional good (OK, obvious) points today when it says CY would be making things even worse if he chose this moment before Sunday’s election to take the MNE monster and strangle it to death. The opposition would be so elated they would rush out to vote in even greater numbers on Sunday, while government loyalists would stay at home in despondent gloom.
So it’s a question of grinding away. We don’t know why we have to do it, but we do. The weekend is hereby declared open an hour early in order to ‘enhance parents’ understanding’ of MNE complete with pictures of balloons and butterflies.
They’ve printed 1,500,000 copies of this thing. ‘The first of a series’!
Do I have to dress in black and plod down to Tamar Base to remind the kiddies about June 4 th ?
Or should I address them in the name of MNE about June 4th?
CY is the only Chinese governor we have had so far who seems to have a plan for the city rather than reacting to events on a crisis basis every Monday morning (Tung) or shuffling the papers (Tsang). Rejoice!
Imagine my joy when one of the Elsies handed me a newspaper article from today’s UK’s Independent newspaper:
‘WEIRWOLF’ PROVES PACK LEADER FOR THIRD GOLD
CY has done it, I thought. Having scotched mainland influxes AND introduced Hong Kong flats for Hong Kong people, he has rubbed Peking’s nose in the congee and given up on National Education. But no. The time is not yet ripe. Peking Man moves at a geriatric pace because he is geriatric. But it will come.
Then the young people can head back to the time-honoured educational methods and procedures which have made the territory great: note memorising, copy and pasting the Internet, collaborative essay production, regurgitation of the borrowed but never bought textbook, using libraries for free streaming pop videos and getting those money-earning certificates on the wall come Hell or high water.
CY is indeed leaving it a bit late for any watering down or flushing of brain wash.
“No Foreigners Allowed”: what a wonderful principle — why don’t we appply it to education (der, done that) and health (oh, it’s being worked on).
Fortunately the “kiddies” are well aware of “June 4th” in Hong Kong – so don’t bother.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the young people the otherside of the border because their Government is a authoritarian dictatorship – so dress up in black and preach there.
Hong Kong does not want to live under an authortarian dictatorship and if the young demonstrators succeed in getting the Government to shelve this silly idea – which is the thin edge of the wedge – they will earn alot of peoples respect.
I followed Bela’s link to the paralymics and was shocked. I didn’t realise that this sort of cruelty was still going on in a so-called civilised society.
I mean, forcing people with no legs to compete in races; making those with no arms compete in track and field; goading those poor wretches into fencing while strapped to a chair! And all in front of a jeering crowd or ne’er do wells. Oh, the utter degredation of it all. It’s no better than the bear-baiting of the Middle Ages. Clearly, the British have not moved with the times – you don’t see any other countries boasting about their paralympic “entertainment” do you? It makes me ashamed to be British.
We managed to ban slavery and to destroy apartheid. Surely we can put an end to the misery and cruelty of this so-called “sporting event”!
The booklet is an insult to students, teachers and parents.
Decked out in soothing pastels and infantile graphics to mask the messages, such as the plan to
rational, multi-perspectival thinking so that they
are able to distinguish right from wrong”
Rational being a favourite codeword of the Regina Ips and her ilk.
Who says Hong Kongers can’t distinguish right from wrong already?
Oh, and who’s paying for the propaganda booklets?
What you said.
The kids at Tamar should be in the classroom writing self-criticisms, not engaging in this “hunger strike” nonsense!
RTP how lucky we are in HK to have the freedom to express a personal point of view and if needed, mock. NME is an attempt to introduce Maoist era behaviour. Well done to our kids for standing up and saying enough is enough. The irony of politicians whose own families who fled the mainland now wanting to replicate what was so abhorrent.
Fully agree with Stephen! These “kiddies” deserve our admiration, not the derogatory comments by CY’s & CCP’s fanclub (RTP)!!
The “Useful Tips” pdf is interesting. It says that “universal values” (e.g. peace, democracy, freedom, human rights, rule of law) will be taught.
I have a couple of questions about this:
1. What is a “unversal value”? Who decided, and how did they figure it out?
2. What does “peace” really mean? Is it, as I suspect, a synonym for “dead”?
3. Democracy: which version? Personally, I rather like the Swiss model (no women, poor people, anyone young).
4. “Human rights”: honestly, who makes this shit up. Every day, there’s some new “right” or other, for someone. Quite a few of these “rights” are mutually contradictory (freedom of speech is a case in point). And does that mean that “democratic” decisions are over-ruled by “rights” that were arbitrarily decided on by a bunch of UN bureaucrats? I think it does…
5. Rule of law: I thought it was rule by the Demos? Or is there another way of looking at this?
RTP – you should buy some remote control tanks in Mongkok, give one of the kids at Tamar a pair of plastic shopping bags and do a July 4 recreation at the hunger strike protest.
It would be a lovely piece of street theatre, but unlikely to get air time on the Mainland.
Can we rustle up a few “hungry children” to set fire to the MNE leaflet in public outside CCP headquarters?
“Useful Tips” is a deeply sinister piece of propaganda material masquerading behind a jaunty and ‘fun’ veneer – eg the use of gratuitous exclamation marks and images of paper airplanes, balloons and butterflies.
Why call it ‘tips’? Why the use of the conditional tense? Why hasn’t a Q and A website been set up? Why has all face to face communication been delegated to schools?
I’m interested to learn the identity and roles of ‘the various stakeholders’ mentioned in the final paragraph. And whether the “Useful Tips for Teachers” companion volume will deploy similar imagery and tone.
@ Many of you who commented above:
I thought and wrote much the same things before June 4th.
How wrong I was, I regret to say.
Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of Mainland interference. They fucking love those things. It’s a classic example of a concept invented by an foreign culture that gets adopted and abused whole heartedly. It’s also a problem with Chinese culture – in the absence of an oratory culture (as authoritarians just tell you want to do, while democrats have to persuade you), the closest concept they have to non-violent persuasion is exhortation.
Appalachian fan club, then you will be interested in this excerpt from the curriculum document: “Performance Assessment: continuous assessment will be conducted with diversified assessment strategies so that various stakeholders can better understand the learning progress of students and give constructive feedback to encourage students to self-reflect and self-improve”.
Chilling, absoutely chilling.
Sadly, this is the kind of rubbish that is all too common in educational documents. It started in the States, spread to Europe and is now over here. Translation “There will be regular tests to see how the students are doing and how they can improve.”
This all has the timing and elements of a perfect crisis. The HK Government is struggling to remain legitimate, CY has cancelled his overseas trip, there’s an election this weekend, whilst the CCP leadership is in transition and moribund. It’s a testament to the decency of the HK people that this has not spilled over into violence. Let’s hope it remains that way.
May I declare the weekend open!
If anyone is in any doubt about the insidiousness of MNE they should pop over to Badcanto’s wordpress blog about it, where you can see for yourselves the MNE database that has been set up to track the indoctrination on an ongoing basis throughout a kid’s school years, replete with the unique identifier of each student’s ID card #.. and to think the BBC is vacillating over the commission of a statue to one Eric Blair..
I very much doubt Chimp, Bela etc have bothered to read what limited information we have about the MNE.
The following are two of “learning outcomes” which you can find in the MNE syllabus guide, i.e. pedagogical guidelines (note: these are not the teaching materials, those are “confidential”):
“Learn about the country’s current political leaders, the efforts and contributions they have made and the difficulties and challenges they face.”
“Love the Motherland” (appears 4 times)
I have read what is publically available… my reaction is that it’s mostly garbage (stated outcomes, topics covered). That said, if I were the principal of a local primary school, I would take the money. No harm in it, and it’s enough to keep two teachers employed.