Writing's on wall for uni suicide shame

Editorial | 12 Sep 2017

The ruckus sparked by a banner congratulating education undersecretary Christine Choi Yuk-lin on the suicide of her 25-year-old son has been going on for a few days now.

What's disappointing and unacceptable is Education University of Hong Kong president Stephen Cheung Yan- leung still saying he's clueless as to who put up the tasteless sign.

There can only be two possibilities - either Cheung is highly inefficient, or he's merely trying to protect students.

Would he have already told the public if the investigation had concluded the two people filmed putting up the banner were not students of the university? It's quite probable. Even worse, he's now telling us that even if those captured in the video were found to be his students, he wouldn't reveal their identities.

Cheung is handling the crisis poorly. If he keeps burying his head in the sand, criticism will continue to come from all directions. Students will keep challenging him, while politicians bombard him.

The truth of what's actually happening may be obscure. But the lack of transparency is deepening what's already a crisis. As far as the public can see, it's no longer an incident confined to the university's campus, for public interest is at stake.

Unfortunate as it may be, if it is confirmed the culprits are students, Cheung won't be able to blame others for not having confidence in his graduates, of whom many will be teachers, who are expected to tell our youngsters to respect even those they may disagree with. It's about human integrity.

Doesn't he realize the image of the new Tai Po university is in danger?

Cheung has apparently chosen not to face the issue directly, but rather opting for the easy way out. However, this may well turn out to be a perilous path to take. If somebody has acted wrongly, they should be disciplined. It's as simple as that - which we've been taught ever since we started learning.

It's never right to just look the other way and pretend that everything will be hunky-dory.

The democracy wall has a long history in local education. As Cheung finished his first degree in Hong Kong, he should know that back in those days, there were administrators for the walls. Students could post their views, but not stealthily. For example, they had to disclose their student numbers to the administrators.

Now, the walls are no longer those where students had learned to be responsible for their opinions. Can Cheung dispute this isn't a setback for education?

Stop sending the wrong message that misbehavior is acceptable. Remember that learning to be responsible is the basis of education.

The students' union warned the university not to unleash white terror by pressing ahead with a witch-hunt. They're wrong, for a witch-hunt involves people who are innocent. If somebody makes a mistake and is punished, that isn't a witch-hunt.

Many of the students will be teachers one day, and have to deal with countless incidents of misbehavior day in, day out. Then, what will they do about similar incidents?

Please don't tell me they'll also turn a blind eye, and pretend that nothing happened!

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