A group of Hong Kong students who won top grades in the university-entry examination have voiced their opposition to the extradition bill amendment amid the city chief vowed to listen to the youngsters.
Many of the 12 students who scored 5** – the highest score in seven or eight subjects in the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) examination – said Chief Executive Carrie Lam should “withdraw” the extradition bill.
The students said they each participated in the anti-extradition bill movement at different levels – some joined the massive rallies in June while others responded to the online petition.
One of the top students from La Salle College, surnamed Hui, said that the chief executive’s formal withdrawal of the bill is the only way to mend the rift in society. “As Lam said ‘the bill is dead’ equals ‘withdraw’, why doesn’t she just announce to withdraw the bill? If the two terms have the same meaning, then it really doesn’t matter to say ‘withdraw’ the bill.”
Hui and his classmate, another top student surnamed Wong, said Lam should take full responsibility for the saga, however, they believed that the problem would still exist even if chief executive responds to protesters’ calls to resign. They urged the city chief to have dialogues with various stakeholders.
The students also believed that the chief executive should appoint an independent inquiry to look into the whole issue, especially to investigate the clashes between protesters and the police on June 12 outside the Legislative Council building when the police were accused of using excessive force on protesters.
Two top students from Diocesan Girls’ School said protesters should remain peaceful. One of them also said she hopes Hong Kong people will feel satisfied now that the chief executive has declared the bill “dead”, but added she hopes the government will carry out more thorough consultations before it rolls out any new policies in future.
A student surnamed To from Kwun Tong Maryknoll College said violence can’t solve the problem in society, but he also wanted Hong Kong people to think about the reasons why young people adopted such a high-risk method to express their views.
“I think we need to rethink why the young people are forced to take to the streets to express their demands,” he said.
More than half of the top students said they hope to study medicine at university.
Earlier this week, Lam said that the extradition controversy and polarization of society that resulted showed that government advisory committees had failed to fully reflect public opinion and meet people’s expectations.
The Youth Development Commission (YDC) is one of the advisory committees targeted.
The deputy-chairman of YDC, Lau Ming-wai, who is also the chairman of the Chinese Estates Holdings, said there’s room for improvement of the Commission’s work, but it was wrong to blame the youngsters for the whole saga, Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Lau said the root of the problem is the communication and consultation work done by the government.
One of the YDC members, Senia Ng, of the Democratic Party, insisted the extradition row is a political crisis and it’s not just a youth problem, adding that the government should transform the YDC into a youth parliament, where elected members can make policy decisions, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
Meanwhile, Nixie Lam of the pro-government camp Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who is also a YDC member, said Lam is too naïve if she thinks a reform of the advisory committee could help solve the problem, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Lam said the government’s top-down approach is outdated and the public consultation process has been “malfunctioning”, as most of the time, the government did not take their advice.