Young people not a problem and most have protested in peaceful and reasonable manner, says HK education minister

11-Jul-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s education minister says the city’s young people are not a problem and that most of them peacefully expressed their concern about society in recent protests.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung on Wednesday also pledged to help the government to communicate better with students, so officials could understand and consider young people’s needs and points of view when drawing up policy.

Young protesters have been at the forefront of recent demonstrations that have forced the government to suspend its controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong lacks an extradition treaty, such as mainland China.

Though most protests have been peaceful, hundreds of demonstrators stormed the Legislative Council on the 22nd anniversary of the city’s handover to Chinese rule on July 1, with some breaking windows and daubing graffiti in the chamber.

Former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa said last week that he was saddened by the violent protests and described the teaching of liberal studies at secondary schools as “one of the reasons behind the youth problems today”.

Asked if the liberal studies curriculum was partly to blame for problems among young people, Yeung said: “I would not say that our young people are problematic. In the past month, a lot of them took part in social movements… most of those activities were peaceful and reasonable, and only some individual incidents involved violence.

“Our young people care about society, we just hope they express their opinion peacefully and rationally.”

Yeung added that the liberal studies curriculum was aimed at helping young people to become citizens with the right values, critical thinking and social responsibility.

“We respect Tung’s opinion and will consider it carefully,” he said.

Yeung was speaking a day after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor made her strongest peace offering yet to protesters by declaring the extradition bill to be “dead”, and admitted her government’s groundwork on the legislation had been a “complete failure”.

While Lam said she was willing to engage in an open dialogue with students, days after they rejected her invitation to a closed-door meeting, the second offer was immediately rebuffed as “insincere”.

Yeung declined to comment on whether his bureau was responsible for the bill’s failure, only saying that it would help the government in communicating with young people.

“The Education Bureau faces a lot of students. Regarding our work with the youth, we will think of how to help other departments when they roll out new policies,” he said.

Yeung added that he hoped Hong Kong people could see that the government was showing sincerity in communicating with different sectors.


Category: Hong Kong

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