Learning from former permanent secretary for education and manpower Fanny Law

Learning from former permanent secretary for education and manpower Fanny Law

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Fanny Law discussed some of her thoughts with our junior reporters.
Photo: Tiffany Choi/SCMP

Looking back to the Umbrella Movement of 2014, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun is not sure if most of the young participants fully understood the issues. She is concerned that many just followed the crowd without thinking it through, and had no clear purpose.

Go to the source

Law believes that when teenagers get their information from newspapers, they only get to know part of a social issue. "Teenagers should see both sides of a story from a primary source to help them acquire a balanced view," says Law. She is worried that some newspapers have an agenda, and don't show the whole picture.

"There are so many people criticising things they read [based on] what the newspaper shows them but I am sure that most of them have never taken a look at primary sources such as official websites," says Law. She says that liberal studies can enhance students' critical thinking skills by training them to read primary sources.

Empathy for internet censorship

When asked about her views on internet censorship on the mainland, Law says young Hongkongers should put themselves in others' shoes before making a judgment.

"In a way I have some empathy for Chinese leaders, as to why they want to censor the media, because we are talking about 1.3 billion people," says Law. "There is a vast difference in education levels between coastal cities and inland cities in China. It is hard for the Beijing government to only filter contents in less-developed cities, so censorship of the internet is applied everywhere in China."

Law feels that less-educated people may get emotional when they hear rumours, potentially causing turmoil or even riots in their areas.

Ethnic minorities can succeed

Law is confident that ethnic minorities are capable of "fully integrating into society", as well as "getting a good job here" - as long as they have the determination to do so. She cites Nabela Qoser, an Indian who worked as an anchor on a Cantonese channel in Hong Kong, as an example.

For non-Cantonese speakers who are desperately trying to blend in with the majority, Law says the government has already established a lot of "new programmes for ethnic minorities to learn the Chinese language, along with their parents".

She believes that if people are held back, it's not because of a lack of resources to help them study.

"It's a question of attitude," Law says. "Our destiny is in our own hands."

Science in Hong Kong

Many people are talking about the new Innovation and Technology Bureau, which will use a lot of tax-payers' money each year. But Law says: "It is high time to change the mindsets of Hong Kong youth and encourage them to do scientific research."

Law, chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, is concerned about the lack of job opportunities in Hong Kong for science students. She said a series of initiatives will be introduced in the near future, and she hopes more multinational companies will set up research centres in Hong Kong.

Searching for success

Law said that to be successful, young Hongkongers have to accept failure and learn from mistakes - just as Alibaba failed three times but persevered until they achieved success.

She also offered this piece of advice for Hongkongers looking to get ahead: "There are so many people from Western countries coming to Hong Kong looking for opportunities, so why don't Hong Kong people go to the mainland looking for opportunities?"

Do you agree with Fanny Law? You can write to exco@ceo.gov.hk and tell her what you think. Be sure to include "To Fanny Law" in the subject of your email

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Learning from Law

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