Being the offshoot of Sing Tao, the Standard occasionally scoops its paid-for alternative. And today’s front-page story suggests that CY Leung’s shining radicalism (or at least willingness to do something) can’t help bursting through his Beijing and Mainland patina from time to time. It looks as if the administration, in a sharp turn away from the hand-wringing obfuscation of its predecessor, will restore the English Schools Foundation’s level of funding and thus pretty much incorporate the institution into the existing system of subsidized-but-independent schools.
Parents who whine about the ESF’s insatiable appetite for higher fees and even a debenture scheme will be happy (if that’s possible). But the implications – if the story is correct – go much further.
It means the government is embracing something that previous officials feared as politically incorrect: a chain of colonial-era, English-language schools that can hardly be funded by the taxpayer. This is probably pragmatic rather than ideological, to accommodate the needs of a multi-cultural population. But it will really upset some patriotic types and the ‘Sino Pride’ cultural warriors who write all those South China Morning Post letters against Western influence.
It also means the leadership is showing approval for schools for which many Hong Kong families have a strong preference – a preference much resented by the civil servants in the Education Bureau because it’s such a vivid rejection of the style of education they seek to force upon the city.
A quick test based on today’s meaningful Hong Kong news…
1 After agreeing to appear on TV, your airhead bim wife is upset to see that the broadcasting company – CCTV, no less – bizarrely portray her as an airhead bim, with the extract even appearing on YouTube, where it has so far attracted a relatively modest 33,000 views. Do you: a) keep quiet and look into yourselves to ask the meaning of what has happened, possibly referring to Ecclesiastes 6:2 for inspiration; or b) take legal action, so it gets into the press and loads of people who would never otherwise have heard about it check out the video and wonder what ghastly people you must be? (Based on the first 1 minute 36 seconds, which was all I could stand.)
2 Upon concluding that your kids are too dimwitted to get into a brand-name university on their own merits, you engage a ‘college admissions consultant’ who tells you he can get them into Harvard for US$2.2 million. When he fails to do so, do you: a) keep your mouth shut and reflect on how shallow and distasteful your behaviour has been, maybe seeking guidance from, say, Matthew 16:26; or b) go to court, so the whole world can see how pathetic you are and wonder if everyone in Hong Kong is like you and Airhead Bim Taitai YouTube Lady and Cecil Chow?
3 Finding yourself starting to look a bit middle-aged, do you: a) live with it because you’re in your 40s or 50s and that’s what happens, and you still have a few decades of life ahead of you; or b) go to the DR beauty salon in Causeway Bay and pay some stem-cell-spouting quack to inject you with processed blood, after which you succumb to a major infection, ultimately dying in hospital, leaving your loved ones with no choice but to listen miserably at the funeral as the pastor reads out something like Genesis 3:19?