Date
29 July 2017
Students and parents protest against a planned national education curriculum in this 2012 file picture. Xi Jinping (inset) meets schoolchildren in Beijing. Photos: HKEJ
Students and parents protest against a planned national education curriculum in this 2012 file picture. Xi Jinping (inset) meets schoolchildren in Beijing. Photos: HKEJ

Why does this DAB idea look like a communist boot camp?

It’s interesting how the government responded positively fairly quickly when a pro-Beijing legislator proposed the revival of patriotic education.

It will be in the form of a training academy in Guangzhou that will teach love of country to young Hong Kong people.

Raymond Tam, the constitutional and China affairs secretary, instantly liked the idea when Wong Ting-kwong of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) pitched it to the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

Tam said the government will study the proposal and see how it can help get it approved by the Guangdong authorities.

The news slipped largely under the radar.

The notion of an academy across the border to promote patriotism to young people does not sound as ominous as a national education curriculum in Hong Kong.

The latter has been shelved since 2012 after widespread protests by parents fearful of communist brainwashing of their children.

But are these two really that different from each other?

Let’s look at how the plan was constructed by the DAB.

It calls for “systematic national education and training” that will be offered in “short-term and long-term courses” by a youth exchange and training academy.

The facility will be run by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.

Now, why does this look like simply moving the pieces in a chess game?

The answer lies in the fact that this plan really is no different from the mothballed national education program.

The location is different but the mechanics and the objective are the same — to glorify communism to our children and teach them the Communist Party’s version of history.

Spare a thought for the Tiananmen crackdown, the Cultural Revolution and the Hong Kong riots — even “one country, two systems”.

They could become mere historical footnotes in new, improved editions of textbooks and sanitized teaching materials.  

Things that could not be taught in Hong Kong schools because of widespread public opposition can now be drilled into young, impressionable minds across the border.

And we are supposed to send our children there.

The government and the DAB like the idea for their own reasons — the former to get around a sticky agenda and the latter to fulfill its role as a shadow organ of the Communist Party.

Each is hoping that by moving things out of sight, these will be out of mind.

Not very clever.

Haven’t they heard that Hong Kong and mainland schools have been organizing exchange programs and educational tours since 1997?

Or are they not aware that these initiatives, which are funded by the government, have been a quiet success?

That’s because Hong Kong people see them as an honest and transparent attempt to promote cross-border cultural and social awareness.

What’s wrong with expanding this program instead of building a communist boot camp?

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SC/AC/RA

EJ Insight writer

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