"Yellow" and "blue" camps should communicate: Roland Chin

Sunday, January 17, 2021

There should be communication between the “yellow” and “blue” camps, retired Baptist University president Roland Chin Tai-hong said as he called on Hongkongers not to give up on youngsters.

Speaking on radio talk-show today, Chin said the university is the epitome of society, in which people bring social problems to schools.

“Many people think that social unrest is solely an educational issue, pushing all the responsibilities to educational institutions,” said Chin, who was the president for 5.5 years.

The 68-year-old who retired last month said the role of universities is only transferring knowledge and it is society as a whole that should reflect on the problem.

“Society lacks communication,” he said. “People can never understand each other without listening to other opinions.”

Chin said there should be communication between “yellow” and “blue” -- referring to those who are pro-democracy and pro-government, if the government wants to solve problems after the unrest.

Chin used examples of former South African president Nelson Mandela setting up a truth and reconciliation commission for racial issues at the end of apartheid, and thousands of dialogues held to tamp down the yellow vests protests in France in 2018 about the importance of communication.

During the social unrest last year, Chin held a forum as the university’s president and was scolded by students with foul language.

“While attending the student forum, I felt students’ hopelessness from their anger,” he said.

Chin organized over 200 breakfast, tea, and supper meetings to improve the communication between students and teachers.

Some people view university students negatively after the social unrest two years ago, he said, but most people show their understanding.

Students can express themselves rationally, but not engage in illegal acts, hate speech, or slander. “They should be responsible for themselves.”

Chin said as youngsters are the future of the society, university and the society should give them hopes and confidence.

Meanwhile, Chin said academic freedom and autonomy still exist under the national security law.

“With the protection of the Basic Law, students have the freedom to choose their courses and research while schools can admit students and recruit staff members freely,” Chin said. “These have not changed.”

He also said that global university integration is inevitable. “In the past, universities were dominated by foreign countries. But now, they are also led by China,” Chin said.

Eight universities in Hong Kong are internationally known and as part of the Greater Bay Area, schools should maintain high international standards.

“Courses, students and professors must be diversified and internationalized," he said in order to compete.

Baptist University has been more internationalized than expected, hiring 106 foreign professors in a new program. The school expected to recruit 30 more staff from overseas in the future, he said.

The number of undergraduates joining foreign exchange programs will also increase from 60 to 100 percent.