22 August 2019
No meeting of minds between C.Y. Leung (inset) and young Occupy protesters. Photos: HKEJ
No meeting of minds between C.Y. Leung (inset) and young Occupy protesters. Photos: HKEJ

CY criticizing youth augurs poorly for dialogue

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is not known as “hard-boned” (“unyielding” in Chinese) for nothing.

He is especially tough on Hong Kong’s young people.

Having promised to tackle the youth issue in his next policy address, Leung gave a preview of his stance in a closed-door meeting with his followers on the weekend.

Leung was adamant in saying the youngsters cannot be pleased, because while we have to endorse what they have done right, we also have to point out what they have done wrong, pro-Beijing paper Ta Kung Pao reported.

He condemned the students who opened yellow umbrellas as a sign of protest during their university graduation ceremonies, saying their behavior was out of line and showed huge disrespect.

The chief executive’s comment, which won applause from his followers, was a slap in the face of University of Science and Technology vice-chancellor Tony Chan Fan-cheong, who had praised those students for being rational and creative in expressing their views.

Leung made it clear that he would not appease the young people and vowed not to act like a “nice person” in resolving social conflicts — although he also promised to bridge the generation gap.

His hard stance on students stems from a dislike of the youngsters, especially those who believe Leung was behind the tear gas attack on the first day of Occupy Central.

Leung denied he had ordered tear gas, but he did not enter the occupied area either. (We are not sure what would have happened had he been there …)

Representatives from the Hong Kong Federation of Students asked to talk not to Leung but to his deputy, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, and later attempted to go directly to Beijing to make their case.

As more voices call for a halt of Occupy Central after nearly two months, the government has been criticized for failing to compromise a little and allow a happy ending for the students.

Instead, the government chose to expose students to criticism from the public, not to mention violence from different parts of society.

Is Leung serious about tackling the youth issue? Making sarcastic comments in a closed-door meeting on youth won’t help.

We are not sure whether, as the father of three kids, he has the parental wisdom to alter unwanted behavior by offering words of encouragement.

Setting up a special youth committee filled with senior citizens does not help, either. There is nothing worse than seeking advice from your predecessors, who arguably have more wisdom but are certainly unpopular with the youngsters.

Perhaps Leung should learn from Wong Yan-lung, the former secretary for justice, who delivered a thoughtful speech at the Chinese University of Hong Kong over the weekend.

Wong advised students to retreat from Occupy Central because the movement has now been contaminated with violence. At the same time, he said the movement showed off the best and also the worst of Hong Kong.

He said, “It is time to show courage and leadership. If a limb is inflicted with deadly cancer, it must be amputated. If the water is polluted, pour it out and refill.”

As for Leung, now we know why there is no dialogue between the chief executive and students who love democracy.

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe