June 23, 2022
HONG KONG – Given the 25 years of operation of the “one country, two systems” framework, it is really unfortunate that Hong Kong has failed to capitalize on this wonderful institutional innovation.
Traditionally, Hong Kong residents have enjoyed unprecedented political rights and freedoms. We must be jealous of every city in mainland China. We do not need to submit a single cent of revenue to the central government. Hong Kong has always been able to get support from the central government whenever we have problems. Despite the inability of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to enact national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law, protests against the introduction of Ethics and National Education and more recently the Occupy Central campaign and violent protests started in June 2019 and the ensuing vandalism and physical attacks on police, citizens and visitors to the mainland must be very disappointing, Beijing has been patient and tolerant. Beijing waited until it was absolutely necessary to intervene. He then quickly enacted the Hong Kong National Security Act to restore peace and order to our city.
It has always been a puzzle to me how well-educated people, like those of the Civic Party, might not understand “one country, two systems”. Together with Benny Tai Yiu-ting, then an associate professor who taught law at the University of Hong Kong and apparently well educated, they could be so foolish as to engage in the dishonest task of trying to dismantle the very foundations of “a country, two systems “, which most people in Hong Kong have always supported.
For “one country, two systems” to work, all stakeholders must have full respect for law and order, full respect for Beijing’s constitutional power to govern Hong Kong, and full respect for the rights of the Hong Kong people for peace and order. In order for “one country, two systems” to continue long after 2047, the people of Hong Kong must learn about the political system on the mainland and respect the fact that it is the historic choice of the Chinese people. Independent studies have repeatedly confirmed that the people of the mainland support their political system and realize that they live in a democracy. Who are we to assume that they live under a “totalitarian regime”, as Western politicians and their “free press” claim?
It’s equally confusing to me that today’s students, who go to school after school, could have a lesser sense of Chinese history and Chinese culture than their predecessors who went to school in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Hong Kong has undergone several educational reforms, but obviously we are not really doing well against a number of key performance indicators. Students are usually less well prepared for college education when they enter a university. Their ability to think critically is no better. Their language skills are not better. And they are no more holistically educated than previous cohorts. Those in my elementary school generation would have learned a lot of Chinese poetry, read a lot of stories about famous people in Chinese history, and could tell the difference between right and wrong behavior. Today, many students seem to be ambivalent about right and wrong. This reflects the absence of critical thinking.
I understand that critical thinking is something rare nowhere. But I had thought that with the introduction of the Liberal Studies curriculum, students would develop critical thinking. I thought that with the Liberal Studies curriculum, including Self and Personal Development, students would gain a holistic view of life and be able to develop healthy and mutually beneficial relationships with other people. But then I learned that even senior Liberal professors had failed miserably in their private lives. So how can they effectively teach the basic skills and values we expect students to learn?
The other day, a friend asked if the new College of Public Administration, founded in December 2021, would make a difference. My answer to him was that school is like a physical body that needs to be given a soul to function. Just because you have the structure does not mean that it will work. After all, what matters is the people who run it. Just as those at the helm of the Liberal Studies curriculum could have offered fantastic results, but they did not do their job well and the curriculum failed miserably, so the new School of Public Administration may do an excellent job. It really depends on who runs it. Do they have the heart and skills to achieve the goals set for them? This is the question.
That’s the reason Beijing has set up an appointment mechanism to scrutinize candidates for the post of CEO. Those who love completely free elections without strict and well-thought-out criteria for controlling unsuitable candidates, can only look to Donald Trump in the United States. The Communist Party of China would never allow a person with the character of Donald Trump to assume any leadership position in the government on the mainland. Likewise, in the interests of the people of Hong Kong, Beijing will ensure that incompetent and immoral people, no matter how politically savvy they may be, will not have the opportunity to become HKSAR CEOs.