Liberal Studies fix to guarantee perpetual harmony


A survey shows 59% of the public think protestors have gone too far. That’s in Ferguson, Missouri. Not sure what the latest opinion polls on Mongkok are, but tensions Stan-LibStudiesare apparently running high there as well this morning.

While we’re waiting for that to unfold, the news is full of Liberal Studies – the Hong Kong high-school subject no-one can understand because there is nothing to learn by rote. Officials are proposing amendments to ‘discussion points’, which we can assume are guidance on themes the teacher should encourage students to consider when they’re not learning anything by rote.

To put the story in perspective, this is part of some mid-term blah-blah academic structure review, which proposes presumably humdrum changes to (among others) the music curriculum, and is subject to public consultation. But this is Hong Kong in the mid-2010s, and if you are looking for an underhand attempt to micromanage the brainwashing of young minds taking an unwholesome interest in politics, it shouldn’t be too hard to find it. Specifically, the Liberal Studies bosses want to eliminate talk of why adolescents might participate in community affairs…


It was OK when ‘community affairs’ meant fund-raising for charities, but now it could mean joining pro-democracy demonstrations, so that’s out. Instead, the idea is to shift the word ‘adolescents’ into the discussion on how government cares deeply about and strives to serve all the ‘various sectors’…


That’s assuming our high-school students meekly go along with it. They could just as easily turn this ‘module’ or whatever it’s called into a class debate on how the government favours property tycoons and shafts the kids and everyone else.

The proposals also suggest that teachers avoid mentioning ‘feelings and responses towards major events’ (I feel a shiver down my spine just thinking about it) and the even more horrifying subject of Hong Kong identity…


The word ‘identity’ now gets shoved into the bit on ‘sense of responsibility, altruism and self-actualization as reasons for involvement in socio-political affairs’…


Which still gives plenty of opportunity for uppity students or radical unpatriotic teachers to stir up hatred against the motherland. (As a community service to spare everyone the bother, I looked up ‘self-actualization’ – it seems to be psycho-babble for not being a loser.)

Which is more charmingly naïve? The idea among officials – if it exists – that the government can de-radicalize teenagers by rejigging the wording in the teachers’ notes for a couple of sessions in a nebulous subject few take seriously? Or the idea among sensitive and critical pro-democrats – if it exists – that officials are that dumb? A far more believable explanation for any apparent attempt to control kids’ thinking is that bureaucrats are following orders from on high to give extreme patriots and Beijing apparatchiks the impression that the Hong Kong authorities are clamping down on a non-cause of the Umbrella-Occupy Movement.

Along with interference by evil foreign forces that we can’t name because it’s not appropriate, incorrect schooling is the main official reason why Hong Kong students and other citizens took to the streets in no uncertain manner in late September 2014. After all, the Chinese Communist Party is perfect, so insulting political reform packages, United Front threats to the law and the press, plagues of Mainland shoppers, and blood-sucking tycoons and landlords can’t have anything to do with it, oh no. It can only be the fault of incorrect classroom discussion on self-actualization – if not classroom discussion, period.

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31 Responses to Liberal Studies fix to guarantee perpetual harmony

  1. PHT says:

    Now that Argyle St. has been cleared at the request of a minibus operator, maybe some of the protesters will move over a couple of blocks and occupy Tung Choi St. between Argyle St. and Mong Kok Rd. Those two blocks have been used as a depot and occupied by minibuses parked 3 wide for as long as I can remember.

  2. JW says:

    What an odd strategy to try and subvert anti-government sentiment developing.

    People on the mainland aren’t stupid enough to fall for it and can pretty easily get the whole story via the web (and even then more likely skewed by western sources).

    Why be afraid of your own people’s thoughts? Just bizarre.

  3. Not a former Real Tax Payer says:

    You’ve been reading the NTSCMP: give-away sign the oh no/oh yes.

    The phrase “HK identity” is clearly unacceptable, since it would imply that (a) the different ethnic communities had anything in common and (b) HKers might be a “people”, and we know where that sort of thinking leads among wishy-washy UN types.

  4. Chinese Netizen says:

    And there’s incredulous wonderment why private, international schools are so in demand in the CCP’s SAR.

  5. john says:

    Well, latest shows over 80% says ‘support is waning’ and why Disregard the 1.5 million votes +/- 20% is a large # .. I guess not your Bastards, eh!

    I was brought-up according to the History of another man – drape in Western studies, literature, idealism and way of life, made one feel how backward / useless our own Culture was – and I loved all things West (music, culture, esp. reading)

    Then came Albright who said ‘the price is worth it’ for estimated killing of 500,000 Iraqi children due to sanctions

    Love turned hatred for next 6-7 years & I began to read about ‘the losers, the useless’ – and realized King Leopold ventures in Congo, millions killed in Vietnam, Cecil in Rhodesia (endless atrocities for centuries) & how proud my own lineage was/is & that changed the mind-set forever

    ONLY US, Canada, NZ & Aussies did not signed the UN charter for respecting Natives Rights & there are endless Non-binding’ readouts against hundreds of mining companies mostly in the West, all-else is ‘vetoed’

    Any form of Govt. is good as long is for the people! Not seen-one since French revolution – and recent history is only somewhat ‘Iceland’

    Wouldn’t Pink Floyd ‘We don’t need no Education’ is more suited with smashing lyrics & Thanks for the classic yesterday

    Do note: last entry i used words like ‘anoint / tongue’ to see reactions – I’m hardcore atheist and against Western despicable Govts. only

  6. Stephen says:

    Bury this on a bad news day not. Is the HK Government / Civil Service now in such disarray that they couldn’t muster at least a molecule of common and political sense to sit on this bollox for a awhile and see how the Student (key word) protests pan out?

    I can see Joshua mouth frothing and the boy has form and done good.

  7. PD says:

    john, So you’re not against despicable East Asian governments?

  8. Cassowary says:

    Yes, yes, the West did [insert horrible thing here], therefore China’s totally justified in doing [insert superficially similar horrible thing], because it’s not as though anyone should ever learn from others’ mistakes, oh no, that’s imperialist hypocrisy designed to keep China down. Only when China repeats every Western power’s past atrocities in triplicate can it rise to be a great empire and throw off the shackles of humiliation bla bla bla bla. Do you guys have a form letter, or something?

  9. Scotty Dotty says:

    Great post. Again, Hemmers is better than the local rags

    Interesting question – as the international schools and English Schools in Hong Kong will doubtless continue with true “liberal studies”, and encouraging their students to cultivate nasty western things like enquiring minds, does that now place them in contravention of government policy.

  10. Gweiloeye says:

    The ironic thing is the bastardisation, politicisation, and communisation of Liberal Studies, is actually a perfect topic to have in …well…Liberal Studies.

  11. Gooddog says:


    Go away.

    Come back when you can express a coherent thought in English.

  12. Gooddog says:

    Re – our fearless bureaucrats.

    Are they trolling us or are they the most stupid, asinine, overpaid bunch of amoeba around.

    I just….
    words can’t express…
    it’s just….
    where to begin….

  13. Brob says:

    john, that could be the Nirvana fallacy, which is a name given to the informal fallacy of comparing actual things with unrealistic, idealized alternatives.

  14. Jimmy says:


    nice story, bro

  15. Jimmy says:

    All joking aside, I guess the modus operandi of people(?) like john is to draw comments on whatever inane claptrap they spew rather than the issues discussed in the blog post or article.

    Done correctly it can be devastatingly effective at stifling genuine discussion.

  16. Hills says:

    I didn’t hear anything from that scary christian woman Elsie Tu, is she dead?

  17. Cassowary says:

    After the Queen’s Pier and Express Rail protests of 2007 and 2009, the Central Policy Unit commissioned several studies on this new breed of hooliga…ahem…activist youth. Presumably, they wanted to find out if they could be made to go awa…ahem…transformed into productive members of society with the standard deployment of social-workers-and-job-training-programmes.

    Nope. Not only did youth activism have little correlation with these kids’ self-perceived job prospects, it didn’t have much to do with life dissatisfaction. What happened was that a subset of youths had formed a value system that the adults completely failed to wrap their minds around. All that placard-waving and jumping up and down about heritage and collective memory and local identity and organic farming and environmentalism wasn’t some kind of delusional fever dream borne of limited career opportunities. They were serious.

    I suspect that the bureaucrats concluded that these kids were deranged anti-development nutters, and there was nothing to do but green-wash a few more policies and ignore them. Well, those nutters just politicized their whole generation, so good luck with that.

    I fully expect there to be another round hand-wringing about what’s wrong with kids these days. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a flood of Confucian Values PSAs all over the TV within the next year or two. If you’re some kind of educational specialist, now would be a good time to pitch your very special conference on Parenting Non-Spoiled, Respectful, Obedient Children with 21st Century Job Skills to the government. Invite child development specialists from the Mainland. Throw in a few extra buzzwords for good measure. You’d make a ton of money.

  18. Jason says:

    Hills, At 101, Elsie seems to be retired. You’ll have to make do with Hilton Cheong-Leen….

  19. john says:

    PD: Just like legalizing bribery into donations – all nations, their leaders are pretty much against her own subjects (Iceland proved somewhat wrong); East/West Govt. are same – both despicable. Honest

    Ah Kau: Feeling the heat

    Brob: Let’s do some smacking on China too: Holder of world records on having most border disputes this arch is from Koreas to SEA to India to Central Asia, and harassed good old Bhutan, YET peaceful rise and sending her own folks to asylum when expressing solid grief upon reaching Beijing – seriously WTF & Chinese imperialism in Africa – more railroads – state secret on polluted air beat them all – again is endless

    However – I’m darning my socks when it comes to her achievements lifting
    1 billion+ out of poverty and an alternative to US (Uk/France) hegemony, as I’m sure there will LESS mayhem – 500 years – starting from Portugal is enough & 4 trillion can go a long way & ALL third world countries are developing unlike West who just pin ALL down & loot – China changed this. Bravo. Yeah! I’m learning a monotone language man ..

    On liberal studies: Well, Iran taught one things, he made me realized any topic on Holocaust is consider anti-Semitism, yet we have debates on ALL history, then why not Holocaust despite 6 million figure appeared in papers long before from Russia 1901 & in again Germany 1933 and is illegal in several countries, indeed Powerful. Also why is China so adamant on 300,000 killed in Nanjing when many reports show otherwise & WTF is American exceptionalism – remote killing?? But thank them for internet (color revolutions??) , and dandy French looting 16 central African nations … openness, honest assessment from ALL sides is key in Liberal Studies

    I normally wont reply as all is allowed to express BUT today – I bought cheap PANDA larger from LKS’s PnS, been giving money to him all my life! & a friend who had some tender mushy natural organic material hence ..

  20. john says:

    Jimmy – there is not much discussions rather all supporting one track mind .. well, maybe a little

  21. MonkeyFish says:

    A short thought experiment… Consider current events in HKG and PRC from the perspective of the post-89 generation of leaders in Beijing. Jiang and co and Hu, Wen, Xi more recently. From their neo-Marxist perspectives, what is the reaon for “stability” in China since 4689? Consistent and aggressive repression of any and all dissent, even the “we accept the primacy of the CCP just want to change the system” dissent; reform of the education system and implementation of patriotic indoctrination from a young age; improvement in the economic livelihoods of the majority of people in the majority of places. Economic populism where an entrenched party-state dominates the newly founded capitalist system, and establishes legitimacy based on development with political rights assumed to be an opposing force to development (same story different flavour to Jap/Korean/other Asian “Tiger” economies.

    From the perspective of these dudes, the ongoing degradation of HKGs “stability” and the loss of any kind of support for the CCP among HKG youth is a failure of the government here to establish effective propaganda systems, repress dissenters, and provide tangible improvements to the economic livelihood of the middle classes.

    Hence: 2003 article 23 was really about creating a mechanism to allow the CCP to stifle dissent in HKG. This was replaced by the attempt to “use grass roots forces” to stifle dissent and promote the CCPs narrative – like Caring for HKG etc, going after the Falun Dafa people.

    Protests by youth in 2007-2009 led to patriotic education efforts, which was also a massive failure. Follow up to that debacle was Ludwig almost openly a CCP member taking the reins, and making noises about economic populism.

    One failure after another. The CCP never had any intention of following the basic law (anyone who has done commercial work in China knows contracts are more like guidelines); and they have never wanted to create a liberal plutocracy in HKG. They also don’t want to make HKG into China. They want to recreate Singapore in HKG (economically prosperous, no real political rights, total control of the political system by the state and the state elite).

    Anyway the point is, as Hemmers often points out, these dudes have got the whole control-repression-propaganda-stability meme in their cultural DNA, and as events evolve in HKG they view the, through the prism of these beliefs. And so the solution is more attempts to establish systems of control similar to mainland society. So post-2016 Legco elections expect legislation derived from Article 23 to be sneakily pushed through.

    Ultimately though I remain convinced that the CCP is in rather a lot of trouble here… all I see is weakness and increasing system wide dissonance, whenever the CCP tries to cultivate and exercise the “soft power” expected of a great nation. It’s like watching a fish trying to do hurdles.

  22. Joe Blow says:

    It’s going to be a long and hot nite in Mongkok.

    Noticed that the pigs are now not using teargas but ‘tear spray’. Did they buy it at SaSa ?

  23. PD says:


    Spot on! In sum, China has tried — for them — gentle methods to bring HK to heel, but has signally failed, indeed making it much less governable. Assuming they don’t just give up, they will probably resort to more and more repressive and violent measures, while ignoring international protests and — in my view — sliding stock and property markets.

    There was a time when it might have been thought that the social unrest could spread to the mainland, but there are few signs of that at present. The only question, then, is whether HKers have the stomach for a long, lonely and bloody tussle.

  24. Joe Blow says:

    Bravo !! The pigs did it again.

    Just when things were getting quiet, mass support was ‘waning’ (according to the South Xinhua Morning Post) and even Jimmy Lai advised to pack up, they are giving the revolution the impulse that it needed, at just the right moment. It’s not even 9 PM and there are already reports of police brutality. These guys are brilliant !

  25. reductio says:


    Wow, good analysis there. Excellent job.

  26. Scotty Dotty says:

    @ Monkeyfish

    Line of the day! “The CCP is like watching a fish trying to do hurdles.”

  27. Brob says:


    Great analysis!

  28. PHT says:

    Joe Blow:

    Even an 80-something Gritty Granny toe-to-toe with the pigs at Shantung St. last night. She showed up at about midnight with a cane in one hand and pulling a shopping trolley with the other saying she wanted to go home. The protesters cleared a path for her and when she got to the front, the row of pigs ignored her request to pass. She then went off at them for about 30-45 seconds and this got the crowd agitated and chanting. Finally, they let her through, and when she was out of harms way down the block a few minutes later there was another violent clash between the protesters and the pigs. The pigs are complete morons and out of control!

  29. nulle says:

    MonkeyFish, great analysis…nail it on the head…

    Now moving forward, only way to stop these CCP idiots is to stop voting for likes of DAB and the United Front to send Beijing a clear message…

  30. NIMBY says:

    Good luck with building rule of law, President Xi, if as even the SCMP reported you are leaving the party above the law. One of my favorite pop art painting from China has the character “Party” or “Clique”, but the 5 brush strokes on the top replaced by a king’s crown.

    24 years ago in the early fall, I biked by a small school near Yanan, stopping to watch the children play. The area, famous for its remoteness and poverty, is even more famous as where Mao and the CCP (oh, the irony, then an outlawed party, where now rule of law) hid from the then legal rulers of China, the KMT。

    1 of only 8 students, the youngest and I chatted. She tried her 10 or so words of English. We switched to Putonghua when I asked her dreams for the future. I’ll be a party cadre. She started me! as the teacher, who by then had joined the conversation, was no rabid propagandist. “Why not an astronaut, a singer, a dancer, or even a fire fighter?” She looked at her teacher as if I was an idiot, shook her head and said “Cadre is best”. “Why?” She just smiled.

    Later just as I was mounting my bike to leave, a car sped into the compound. The children shouted: “The cadres are coming the cadres are coming . Out stepped two confident, fat, sleek party ubermensches shouting at me how I found this rural one-room school — that it was ji-mi-nei-bu (Top secret).

    The cadres kept threatening and badgering, while the poor teacher look panicked about her own future, so I gave in, offered to resolve the problems by about of self-criticizing fueled by dinner, drink, and a carton of Marlboro, naturally at my expense. As I disassembled and stuffed my bike into the trunk of the car, the little girl ran up again and again, giggling the whole time.I had to smile back: “Yes, you are right, its best to be the party”.

    People should stop using “rule of law” as if’s meaning is flexible, or at least only means what they have in mind. They should read the following url link containing the UN recognized standard definition. It’s shocking that law professionals like the Police’s Andy Tsang and most of our political leaders apparently do not know know it (or plead a false ignorance), particularly to point 4, and badly abuse the term.

    Ask any working class person in Hong Kong, they will tell you Andy Tsang’s men, Lands Dept,etc., even our daunted courts; are selective in applying the law nearly every point. There has never been a “pure” rule of law in this patronage riddled system. The Students are hitting the same stone wall nearly anyone looking for honest justice in this town has hit. I hope they do a Berlin Wall number on it, but I’m not holding my breath.

  31. Cassowary says:

    This is a country that tolerates tofu buildings, AIDS villages, and entire townships run by organised crime. Hong Kong’s ungovernability is no more than a case of the dandruff to them. It’s not like they care how badly this place is run as long as they still get to launder their money through here.

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