Today marks the first day of the student class boycott at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). It is a move fueled by students’ disapproval of, in their opinion, an increasing political interference at my alma mater, HKU. This is a response to not only the fiasco with Johannes Chan Man-mun last year, but also to CY Leung’s appointment of Arther Li Kwok-Cheung, a known pro-Beijing, former education minister as the university council’s new chairman.
The boycott was a last resort according to Yvonne Leung Lai-Kwok, one of the boycott committee members; they had already tried everything else and the council was unwilling to listen. The decision to boycott was set into motion after an agreement was reached amongst 100 students. They have called for the rest of the student body for support and for teaching staff to join in the fray as well.
The main concern I have with this is that boycotting has become annoyingly frequent, so much so that for readers including myself it is now frankly, quite boring. Boycotting students were criticised for not caring about their studies while they pursue objectives behind the shield of academic freedom. And no doubt this is the same criticism ringing through the heads of taxpayers, of the general public, the older generation, and even alumni such as myself.
As a previous HKU student, I can only say this: instead of taking into consideration these criticisms of previous boycotts, you choose to follow through with the same strategy time and time again, with increasingly less success each time. Students at HKU, teaching staff at HKU, the wider public – they do not necessarily share the same views over such controversial matters. This is expected of a freethinking society such as Hong Kong. Even if they did share the same view as you, they might not agree with such methods. Your methods must therefore evolve as quickly as the political climate is transforming, lest you lose more and more support and without support, there is little chance of you achieving what you want to achieve.
This is not to say that you should stop fighting for what you believe; rather, you should take a step back, regroup and think of a new strategy, based on your previous successes and failures. Bear in mind that immediate confrontation is not always the way forward. More importantly, step into the shoes of people with different views from yourself. Power is not conceded without a demand (Douglas, 1869). Ask not for people to blindly support you, but rather, ask yourself why should they support you, and what have they to gain for supporting you?
(Photo source: straitstimes.com)