Hong Kong schools get mainland propaganda
|Our Correspondent||Jul 26, 2012|
On July 29, dismayed parents and students in Hong Kong’s public schools intend to march on the city’s government offices to protest a plan quietly hatched by the administration of former Hong Kong Chief executive Donald Tsang to launch a controversial “patriotic education” program for schools extolling the virtues of the mainland.
The government has quietly provided HK$13 million taxpayer dollars to the Hong Kong Patriotic Education Services Centre to produce a 34-page booklet titled ‘Chinese Model National Conditions Teaching Manual’ for Hong Kong schools. How this came to be without proper public consultation, professional vetting or Legislative Council debate, remains yet another mystery in misgovernance.
The Tsang administration allocated this annual fund to a hitherto unknown ‘patriotic education’ outfit created by the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, which represents 26,000 comrade teachers and is an integral part of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the political party with the closest ties to the mainland’s communist government.
These and many other bodies are hydra-headed expressions of ‘united front’ work coordinated and fuelled by the China Liaison Office. While exerting a coercive influence on the Hong Kong government, the Communist Party remains largely invisible in the territory, working through ‘united front’ activity in schools, unions and Taoist religious organizations.
Parents and teachers call for mass protest
Parents, teachers and pupils have scheduled next Sunday to march to the government headquarters in Admiralty. Widespread public dismay over the contents of this ‘Chinese Model’ teaching manual caused the government to postpone full implementation of moral and patriotic education classes.
Despite risng public indignation, the booklet is scheduled to be distributed to some primary schools this September while secondary schools will implement the ‘compulsory’ curriculum from 2015. Hong Kong society has three years to agree the boundary between education and propaganda.
The Catholic, Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran Church schools networks have rejected the ‘Chinese Model’ booklet as inappropriate. That removes one-third of primary schools in Hong Kong from the scheme this year.
Surprisingly, the Taoist and Islamic schools have acquiesced to use the text from the new school year. It is highly likely that both are dependent on supplementary funding from the source of all united front initiatives.
Love the motherland, love the Communist Party
Thirty-two pages of the ‘Chinese Model’ booklet extol the virtues of the mainland government under its one-party communist dictatorship. Perfunctory reference is made to recent incidents of concern like the tainted milk scandal, internet filtering software and the “My dad is Li Gang” case of the son of a Party official whose car knocked down a girl on campus. He fled the scene boasting of his powerful dad.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is described as “progressive, selfless and united” in contrast to the messy two-party conflicts of the USA and contentious and unstable multi-party European governments.
The horrors inflicted on the Chinese people through unchecked political monopoly power and callous disregard for human rights are not discussed in ‘Chinese Model’. The ten-year Cultural Revolution madness gets no mention. The June 4 1989 Tiananmen massacre of students is absent.
Education Secretary summoned to Beijing
The new Education Secretary, Eddie Ng Hak-kim, while bravely trying to justify patriotic education, could not bring himself to endorse the booklet. He found parts of the manual biased. He worried that the texts being produced could lead to ‘brainwashing’ and was against hasty introduction of this material.
Hardly a fortnight into his job, Secretary Ng was summoned to Beijing on a secret trip which breached protocol and long-established procedure to inform the press. Ng has been silent on the content of the Beijing meeting since his return.
The Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union which represents the majority of teachers in the territory with a membership of 80,000 against the left-fringe FEW, which has 26,000 members, rejects the patriotic education scheme. Its founding chairman was the late Szeto Wah, a respected human rights leader who came to prominence during the 1989 Tiananmen military action against students.
The HKPTU’s current chairman Fung Wai-wah called for the government to scrap the discredited ‘Chinese Model’ booklet and patriotic education course.
“The government should not wait until students refuse to show up in class before it reviews the course”. The union is collecting signatures from teachers opposed to the biased patriotic education material and will lead the July 29 mass rally.
Patriots lie low for the moment
The uncharacteristic reticence on this loaded issue by otherwise vociferous pro-Beijing patriots in Hong Kong is because the Legislative Council elections are due in September. Hong Kong is still fresh from the huge turnout for the June 4 vigil and public outrage on July 1 against the suspicious death in custody of Tiananmen detainee Li Wangyang.
The DAB fears a backlash from Hong Kong’s fiercely non-conformist residents. If it fails to secure a two-thirds majority along with allies from the rotten boroughs of functional constituencies, it will be difficult to stall the demand to jettison functional constituency voting blocks for directly elected seats, or to pass the Article 23 Security Bill which Beijing needs, to de-fang Hong Kong’s press and chill public dissent. Touted as a national security obligation, Article 23 is a thinly veiled internal suppression tool to align Hong Kong with mainland police state methods.
Hong Kong pride in being Chinese drops
Hong Kong University’s annual poll on the sense of pride in becoming Chinese citizens after 1997 dropped to its lowest level since 2001, of just 37 percent of residents. That 63% of HK disavows China identity fifteen years after the handover, must be worrisome for Beijing and its proxies in the territory. Hence the frenzy to instill love of the Party through indoctrination of vulnerable youth in schools.
‘National Little Vanguard’ teaches Mao worship
At the ‘City Forum’ weekend televised debate of July 15 on patriotic education, Yu Yee-wah, chairperson of the Education Employees General Union and the HK Primary Teachers Association of General Studies (both organs of FEW) smacked down 15-year old Jasper Wong Chi-fung, co-founder of a student group opposed to brainwashing. Her tantrum was captured on camera and distributed widely on YouTube.
Jasper Wong says he is both a Chinese and Hong Kong citizen and sees no problem with patriotism. “But patriotism should not be cultivated through a school subject which aims to brainwash students,” he said. His student group expects to join the July 29 rally.
Netizens researching Ms Yu Yee-wah found to their astonishment that she was also vice-chair of the ‘National Little Vanguard’ which teaches schoolchildren to worship Chairman Mao’s calligraphic works and ‘relentless spirit’. Little Vanguards wear military uniforms, raise the national flag, sing red songs and march with rifles. After this discovery led to uproar in HK’s blogosphere, the Little Vanguard website was hastily removed.
All that systematic indoctrination of children is well established in mainland schools as methodology the Communist Party borrowed long ago from the fascist totalitarian regimes of Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini.
Yu Yee-wah’s Facebook page displays photographs of herself in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and a one-on-one photo with CY Leung, the territory’s current chief executive.
The last word on the progress of the Communist Party is best left to former mainland public security bureau officer Ni Kuang, who likened it to the progress of a cannibal tribe upgrading to knives and forks to eat humans. “The essence hasn’t changed. It becomes more absurd. And they are so proud of it.”
Ni Kuang migrated to Hong Kong from China in 1957 after serving as a public security apparatchik in Inner Mongolia, where his job was to write death sentences for class enemies and anyone else nominated by local party chiefs. He feared political persecution for his reluctance to cooperate in terminating people.
His career in Hong Kong blossomed as a science fiction writer and prolific scriptwriter for Shaw Brothers Studios from the 1960s through 1980s, famous for hits like One Armed Swordsman, The Blood Brothers, Flying Guillotine etc. His Fist of Fury launched the career of a young Bruce Lee.
Ni Kuang was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the HK movie industry at its 31st Film Festival this April.