Students say they didn't sign up for controversial cadet group

Students say they didn't sign up for controversial cadet group

Recruits say they didn't sign up for new army cadet group as activists warn against using military training on youngsters

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Cadets waves from bus outside Ngong Shuen Chau Barracks.
Cadets waves from bus outside Ngong Shuen Chau Barracks.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

People are still talking about the secretive, military-style organisation for young Hongkongers. Early this week media found out that one of the first students to "join" said he never even agreed to become part of the group.

In an interview with online media, the student said he and others were only asked to join Sunday's ceremony to make the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association look good.

The association says it is backed by government leaders, Beijing's representatives in the city and the local People's Liberation Army garrison. Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's wife, is its "commander-in-chief".

Democracy activists are suspicious of the group, and wonder whether it will be used as a political tool. The few media people invited to Sunday's launch had close ties to Beijing.

The "recruit", named only as Jackie, said he saw an ad for the event on Facebook. It appeared on a page for alumni of a military summer camp organised by the Education Bureau, the PLA and non-profit group Concerted Efforts Resource Centre.

People who agreed to take part in the ceremony would get a free PLA uniform, which would be the outfit for the new group. He agreed to go along out of curiosity and was told by staff from the Concerted Efforts Resource Centre that he was not being recruited to the cadets.

Yet at the ceremony, he and other volunteers were introduced as "members from different columns" of the association.

A Form One pupil from Buddhist Hung Sean Chau Memorial College, who asked to remain anonymous, said all 120 students from his year attended, but only as spectators.

Businessman Stephen Tai Tak-fung, president of Concerted Efforts and a director of the new association, could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Wong Yeung-tat, leader of pro-democracy group Civic Passion, announced his group would form its own section for young people. The section is designed to counter the cadet group.

Wong believes the cadet group would use military training to brainwash young people with Communist Party values.

"It will make it easier to accept the sets of values being taught to them," Wong said. He added that around 300 young people took part in the ceremony.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Students fight back in cadet controversy

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