Hong Kong education system fails to teach real democracy

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/17 22:33:39

A blocked entrance of the Chinese University of Hong Kong by rioters on November 13, 2019. Photo: Xinhua

What is a child supposed to do at the age of 11 or 12? The answer should be a list of beautiful things. But in Hong Kong, a child that young could be arrested for illegal acts in unlawful assemblies carrying offensive weapons such as Molotov cocktails or metal poles for attacks. 

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) seems self-satisfied in its new findings about the Hong Kong riots. In an article entitled "The 11-Year-Old Dissident: Hong Kong's Schoolchildren Fuel Protests," it stressed that "more than a third of 4,000 protesters arrested are age 20 and younger… The youngest protester arrested is 11." 

The problem is, does the WSJ believe an 11-year-old's inclination toward violence should be encouraged? 

It is unfortunate to see young protesters in Hong Kong destroy public facilities, attack police and even innocent people who disagree with them, without the rationality of listening to what others have to say. 

No one would believe turning that way is the natural process of growing up. There can thus only be one answer - young people, who easily absorb everything and are not mature enough to judge, are being utilized by certain forces with ulterior motives. All in all, this is a failure of Hong Kong's education and their parents. 

The young Hongkongers, who have no idea what democracy is, are becoming destroyers of democracy. There are reasons for that. Some radical parents have been taking their children to the protests and they witness how riots occur. Some protest organizers instigate teenagers to participate in destructive actions. Some schools and educators are instilling radical thoughts in their students, and social media, which is spreading information, including rumors and misleading messages, at an unprecedentedly rapid speed.  

When young rioters in Hong Kong think they are pursuing democracy, they have only shown they are in desperate need of democracy 101 education. Real democracy needs rationality, and it needs people who abide by the law when voicing their opinions and who are willing to believe that those who hold different views are entitled to the same rights as others. 

Not allowing disagreements and turning violent once their demands are not met is not democracy, neither is blocking roads or setting metro stations and universities on fire. Such behavior is not democratic, but could invite anarchy. 

As Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong put it, the five demands raised by the Hong Kong protesters are not meant to solve Hong Kong's problems, but "are intended to humiliate and bring down the government." What is happening in Hong Kong is becoming a violent movement to subvert the city's current system. Any legal government would not allow it. 

Some Western media have also woken up to the fact. Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung published an article on Friday, saying that whoever fights for democracy must accept counterviews. 

The educational environment for young Hongkongers needs urgent reforms. It is not only about their concept of history, but more importantly, about the real meaning of democracy. 

Posted in: OBSERVER

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