20 January 2019
Two-thirds of Leung Kwok-hung's secondary school classmates have emigrated from Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ
Two-thirds of Leung Kwok-hung's secondary school classmates have emigrated from Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ

Most, if not all, his classmates are gone for good

Coming back from Shanghai, I bumped into “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, and soon we went drinking and catching up with each other.

We sort of shared the same alma mater — Clementi Secondary School, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.

Leung is a true alumnus who completed his secondary education there and graduated in 1973, while I, who didn’t undergo any secondary education but took the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination as a private candidate, got myself enrolled at the school for one year of matriculation studies.

It has been rather sad to learn that over two-thirds of Leung’s classmates have long emigrated.

He couldn’t help but arrive at the conclusion that it might not be pointless that the younger generation is demanding independence for Hong Kong.

Clementi Secondary School, especially during the years Leung studied there, was the top-notch Chinese school.

Undoubtedly, the Clementi alumni are all members of the social elite.

It is a tremendous loss for Hong Kong to see all these elite people run away.

Migration is a familiar phenomenon in the city.

I am intrigued to learn how many of Leung’s classmates went away during the Hong Kong mass migration wave before the handover and how many of them are doing so this time around.

Hong Kong is getting severely bogged down in contradictions, with no progress in democracy, as well as suffering increasing political interference from the invisible hand of the central government.

These factors are pushing people away at an astonishing speed.

Every day, at least 150 mainlanders move into the city; meanwhile, an unknown number of Hongkongers move away.

Thanks to dual citizenship, it is hard to find out the exact number of Hong Kong people who are genuinely leaving forever.

What we should really ponder upon is what sort of elite are incoming and leaving daily.

Are we keeping more talented people, or otherwise?

Is the society progressing or regressing?

I am not racist, and I have no intention to stir up conflict between Hong Kong and mainland China.

What I am trying to say is that population policymakers and whoever cares about Hong Kong should look into the issue seriously, since talented people are the most vital social resource.

How to gather and retain them is the cornerstone to prosperity in a society.

Two-thirds of Leung’s classmates moving away is not something one should overlook.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 23.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist; art, culture and food critic

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