HKDSE 2019: what Hong Kong students think about the extradition bill, Carrie Lam, and 'the problem with' liberal studies

HKDSE 2019: what Hong Kong students think about the extradition bill, Carrie Lam, and 'the problem with' liberal studies

Exam results were released today and we took the opportunity to speak to DSE candidates about Hong Kong issues


Mass anti-extradition protests have rocked Hong Kong since early June.
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

The 2019 HKDSE results were released on Wednesday morning, and this year students felt the pressure from more than just receiving their grades: there was also the tension from Hong Kong’s recent political unrest.

From the now-suspended extradition bill and the protests against it to Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s governance, HKDSE students had a lot to say about what’s going on in the city they call home.

Here's what some of this year's graduates think about ...

Live report from Hong Kong schools as students receive their HKDSE exam results and top scorers are revealed

The extradition bill

“I was [at the June 9 and 12 protests]. I believe what were doing is right. We’re fighting for freedom of speech, which our government is taking away from us. We’re disappointed by the police and how they attacked the protesters.”

Some of my friends also joined the protest. They care about the events, and talk about it on Instagram or Facebook. They have a clear idea about what Hong Kong is facing.”

Chan Wai-lam, 18, Kwun Tong Maryknoll College

Top scorer Matthew Chow from DBS.
Photo: Kelly Ho/SCMP

“The government introduced the bill too hastily. If more consultation work was done, the bill could have secured more support in society.”

I think if you protest peacefully, citizens in Hong Kong would not oppose it. But if you use too much violence, then most people will not agree with your means. Obviously the protesters who trashed Legco on July 1 were wrong.”

Matthew Chow Bak-yue, 18, top scorer from Diocesan Boys’ School

Now that many people have addressed their concerns [on the bill], there's no reason why the government should reject [their demands] or postpone [their response]. Hongkongers should now focus on ‘mending’ the broken society, and rebuild it into a ‘harmonious’ one.”

Yu Hiu-yat, 18, super top scorer from Queen’s College

On Chief Executive Carrie Lam

“I have nothing to say about her. She is really bad.
She either thinks what she did is right or is just controlled by the Chinese government. She doesn’t have her own soul and doesn’t know what justice is.”
Chan Wai-lam
“Lam should encourage more teenagers to join the Youth Development Commission, and address other issues youngsters are most concerned with, such as housing problems and healthcare issues.”

Matthew Chow

“I think it’d be good for her to just announce it’s withdrawn instead of using words like ‘dead’ or ‘to suspend’. It’s been going on for a very long time and we don’t want things to get ugly in the future.”

Alex Wong Chi-fung, top scorer from La Salle College

La Salle students (from left) Wong Chi-fung, Siu Tsz-chung and and Herbert Hui Yau-ho.
Photo: Eunice Yip

On liberal studies 

“We should not blame the subject because I think it's essential to have this subject. If we don't have it, I think we might just ignore the news and society, etc.”

[For liberal studies] I need to try to find some news and think about the opinions of different stakeholders. This can help practise my critical thinking skills.

Brian Chan Wai-nok, 17, St Mark’s School’s first top scorer

“Liberal studies has helped me to understand different concepts in psychology and social studies. By analysing different news pieces and sources across different types of media, it [teaches] us to make logical deductions and to develop our own critical thinking about certain issues.”

Edward Wong Hon-yin, 17, St Paul’s College

“When I study liberal studies, I developed a stronger sense of social affairs and habit of watching the news. However, I don't agree that it would strongly affect the students’ mindsets. My own LS teacher has a neutral judgment about different issues across Hong Kong, China and the world.”

Marcus Chew Chun-hin, 18, St Paul’s College

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“It teaches critical thinking. Teachers taught me a lot about democracy and the importance of the law. There is a lot to learn from liberal studies and it should remind us of the core of Hong Kong-ness.”

Chan Wai-lam

“I don’t think liberal studies is intrinsically an evil thing, it just enables us to exercise critical thinking in our studies.”

Victor Siu Tsz-chung, 17, La Salle College top scorer and an aspiring doctor

“Liberal studies can be excluded from the DSE exam and studied in classes as an exam-free subject. It still needs to be studied as it can increase student awareness about political issues.”

Sunny Yiu-sing, 18, Kau Yan College

The Legco building was vandalised on after a largely peaceful anti-extradition law protest on July 1, 2019.
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

“I think studying liberal studies helps students think more systematically and efficiently, as well as see things from multiple perspectives. There are no default answers to the exam questions either. All that is required is an analysis [of a social incident], as well as solid arguments to back up your stance.”

Yu Hiu-yat

“I think liberal studies is about exam skills, not brainwashing or instilling the wrong values in students.”

Wing Ng, 18, Immaculate Heart of Mary College

“The subject of liberal studies encourages students to think critically. When we’re answering questions in the exam, we’re asked to give arguments of both sides. Instead of radicalising students, I think the subject allows us to look at an issue from multiple perspectives, which helps us understand social issues more comprehensively.”

Matthew Chow

Other political issues

Social harmony

“I think for a democratic society, we need to respect and embrace different opinions so we can have a peaceful and harmonious society.”

Brian Chan Wai-nok

“Society is getting less harmonious and the social divide is widening. A lot of government practices suggest that the government has its head in the clouds ... Most importantly, I think the government should respond to the demands of the majority of people.”

Yu Hiu-yat, 18, super top scorer from Queen’s College

Hospitals leaking protesters' information and arrests made at hospitals

“I think patient privacy is very important. If there's no significant reason [to break confidentiality], doctors should protect their patients.”

Brian Chan Wai-nok

“Medical ethics are independent of politics. As an ethical doctor, my job would be to protect the basic rights of patients, and I would only give out patients' information given that the patients themselves approve.”

Victor Siu Tsz-chung, 17, top scorer from La Salle College 
The Hong Kong Police have been under fire for their handling of protesters.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

On whether teenagers are apathetic about politics

“People say that teenagers nowadays don’t care about their peers, that they just indulge in their phones or gadgets. But those marches made me realise that there are still a lot of people who care about the people around them and care about what is going on in society.”

Victor Siu Tsz-chung

On how the government should reconnect with young people

"The government should wisely accept the opinion of teenagers and try to have some discussions so that we can have a peaceful society."

Brian Chan Wai-nok


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