27 June 2019
Lee Suet-ying (inset) says the government should listen to young people without considering it giving in to them. Photos: Reuters, Ming Pao
Lee Suet-ying (inset) says the government should listen to young people without considering it giving in to them. Photos: Reuters, Ming Pao

I wept thrice during Occupy: Head of school principals body

Lee Suet-ying, who chairs the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools, said she cried on three occasions during the Occupy protests, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.

She slammed the government for refusing a meeting with Scholarism representatives who went on a hunger strike, the report said.

Lee said the government’s refusal to communicate was a mistake that will cost it support from not only the younger generation but also more mature people who witnessed its treatment of the students.

She said she wept when police fired tear gas bombs at protesting students, then when the three Occupy Central founders were accused of hijacking the student movement and later when she became worried about the image of police being damaged.

Lee said she visited the protest sites with her friends and old students. She saw those who decided to take to the streets as passionate individuals fighting for a just society.

It would be belittling the protesters to assume they were out on the street because they did not see opportunities to climb up the social ladder, she said.

Lee said students could still prepare themselves and learn outside the classroom to pursue democracy and chase their dreams.

As public servants, government officials have the responsibility to listen to the people, including representatives from the Hong Kong Federation of Students, and should not consider it giving in to them, she said.

“A principal would not hesitate to listen to his students, even if it was a Primary 1 student who came knocking on the door,” Lee said.

“That is because they are people you love and care about.”

After the street occupation, young people have become more enthusiastic about being involved in thinking about where society is heading and its political development, Lee said.

The government should be accommodating in adopting their views and suggestions, and more platforms should be set up for the younger generation to voice their thoughts, she said.

Lee became a household name after she publicly criticized the suggestion by the Alliance for Peace and Democracy that a hotline be set up for people to report any secondary school students who were going to take part in school strikes or the Occupy Central movement.

She said it brought back terrible memories of what happened during the Cultural Revolution.

“I was only saying what I believe is right,” Lee said.

She said students have learned over the past decade or so to challenge authority, and teachers should no longer adopt a top-down approach toward them.

Lee stressed that teachers should reason with their students and their parents and encourage mutual communication to resolve problems.

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