17 November 2019
Questions about their political preferences proved tougher for the DSE topnotchers than the actual written exams. Photo: HKEJ
Questions about their political preferences proved tougher for the DSE topnotchers than the actual written exams. Photo: HKEJ

DSE top scorers should not sit for Occupy Central questions

Hong Kong’s Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams may be a breeze, but the oral test afterwards was a lot more challenging. A dozen top scorers were subjected to a battery of questions by local journalists who sought their views on the burning issues of the day, such as Occupy Central and universal suffrage.

There were no right and wrong answers. It’s how they explained their answers that mattered. They are, after all, the cream of the crop.

In what seemed like a Liberal Studies post-program examination, the elite students produced colorful quotes that appeared on the front pages of most newspapers today. They were all brilliant; none of them opposed universal suffrage.

Media asked all sorts of questions but only used the answers they liked. As expected, Apple Daily, a supporter of Occupy Central, reported that half of them oppose a filtering mechanism for the chief executive election. The newspaper also quoted a top scorer, who got eight level-five marks, as saying that Occupy Central could bring short-term economic loss but that it would be a price worth paying if we get a genuinely elected chief executive and universal suffrage.

The report was somewhat different from Ming Pao, which suggested only three out of the dozen top DSE scorers supported the Occupy Central movement, with nine voicing some reservations.

Ming Pao, which produced as many positive Occupy Central stories as negative ones, was among the first of the local papers to ask the top scorers political questions.

Rather than asking the exam topnotchers the recipe for their success, local media chose to challenge them with sensitive topics and see how well these young minds responded. Fielding heavy bombardment from the news-hungry pack, one top scorer admitted her school did not allow her to speak on those subjects as they were unrelated to her academic results.

I’m not a fan of this new century journalism, but I’m inclined to support the notion that reporters can ask whatever they like.

Asking the students about their political views and preferences is no different from asking them what brand of milk they prefer to drink. They are entitled to their own opinions, just like everyone else.

So when the issue of Occupy Central is asked, the views of Miss Hong Kong or the parents whose first baby was born on New Year’s Day matter as much as those of the DSE top scorer because they, too, are the future of Hong Kong.

It was reported that nearly half of the top scorers would choose medicine as their profession. This shows how much respect this city holds for the profession. But honestly, how many doctors do you know are active in politics, instead of making money on the operating tables

It might also be dangerous for these young minds to be painting themselves into a corner by being asked to have a specific political stand. Politics changes. Today’s student elite may say they want to become the leaders of Hong Kong someday because they want to foster freedom and democracy in their beloved city, but two decades later, they might become more dictatorial than the present crop of leaders they now denounce.

I can think of a couple of top scorers who aspired to be reporters, and ended up in financial journalism because it is a better-paying career. Who says there is no future in financial journalism?

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EJ Insight writer