Fight for your rights

Fight for your rights

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Secretary of education Eddie Ng.
Secretary of education Eddie Ng.
Photo: Felix Wong/SCMP

By urging students not to participate in the Occupy Central movement last week, education secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim has all but ignored the freedom of Hong Kong students.

His speech also reflected the Hong Kong government's fear of a widespread social movement demanding genuine universal suffrage.

Students as individuals should be free to take part in protests and rallies. After all, it's the government who claimed Liberal Studies would help our individual thinking when they introduced the curriculum.

But when it comes to Occupy Central, it seems like the government is backing away from their word.

As the secretary of education, Ng urged students not to join the movement that might "cause repercussions for their prospects" and called for teachers to obey the law. He also asked teachers not to help students in taking part in the movement. He even warned that teachers could be held responsible for students' actions.

The speech has been rightfully criticised by parents and various teaching bodies. It's just another example of the government trying to prevent the general population from participating in a movement for universal suffrage.

As the electoral reform consultation has come to an end, chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has openly rejected the idea of civil nomination, and asked political groups to focus on other options. That means the popularly-supported reform proposals from Scholarism and the Alliance for True Democracy have been rejected, while those who demand civil nomination are now identified as "radical pan-democrats".

As a movement that was only proposed when universal suffrage seemed unlikely, Occupy Central is expected to be a non-violent, peaceful act of civil disobedience. Still, government officials and members of the Central government have spoken out against it, and repeatedly warned the public not to participate.

Some experts even believe that they might deploy the People's Liberation Army to suppress the movement.

As more members of the public understand that true universal suffrage won't happen in 2017, there is a higher chance that major social movements will occur in the following months.

Ng likely won't be the only government official who will try to intimidate the public into staying quiet. But instead of stepping back, as citizens we should stand firm in what we believe. Our government should be afraid of its citizens, not the other way round.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Fight for your rights

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