After a minor protest, a Hong Kong middle school principal has defended the school’s decision to invite Joshua Wong as a guest speaker.
On Monday, the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement’s most famous teenager showed up at Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School to give a talk entitled, “The role of youths in political activism.” The host and students also asked questions like “what’s governance and civil disobedience?” and “is the Occupy movement a peaceful or violent demonstration?”
The following day, a group of about a dozen people showed up outside Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School to protest Wong’s talk. Claiming to be “angry parents” of students, the group said that the 18-year-old’s lecture was “political indoctrination” and an attempt to “instruct” students in “law breaking.”
But school principal Wan Ka-kit has no problem with the content of Wong’s lecture.
Joshua Wong may be a “controversial character,” Wan told Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, but what he has to share is “educational.”
Besides, the school had invited former Chief Secretary Anson Chan, Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang, and National People’s Congress representative Raymond Ho—political figures from the pro-democracy or pro-establishment camp—as guest speakers before.
And Wong’s talk was open and attendance not compulsory, Wan added.
The school had also approved and sent their invite to Wong during the 2014 summer holiday, before the 79-day long Occupy protests from September to December, where Wong gained international prominence.
Wong, the school felt, was a suitable candidate to speak on youths and political activism as he is a leading figure in that regard.
As a precocious 15-year-old, Wong found fame when he and his student group, Scholarism, protested a government motion to introduce “national education” in 2011. Most Hongkongers felt that the proposed school curriculum was Beijing’s attempt to “brainwash” the city’s youths into supporting the Chinese communist regime.
In a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday, Wong slammed the protest against his talk.
“Are the protesters really ‘parents of Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School students’?” Wong questioned.
“As a student group representative, of course my views aren’t neutral,” said Wong, “but I encouraged students at the talk to evaluate what I said by their own standards.”
Wong added that he welcomed students to challenge him during the question and answers segment, especially if they disagreed with him or found his views suspect.