Don't make unis a hotbed for terrorism

Editorial | Mary Ma 14 Nov 2019

Mainland students fled the Chinese University of Hong Kong after a day of "battle" at one of the university's entrances.

The photo of a number of them boarding a police launch along with suitcases was dramatic. It was likened by some to the Chinese naval operation to evacuate hundreds of Chinese nationals and foreigners trapped in Yemen which was torn apart by civil war.

Hong Kong is experiencing a "civil war" in a non-military sense. The escalation of violence since the death of student Chow Tsz-lok has been alarming.

Just as different parts of the SAR were hit by flash protests - including the formerly relatively quiet Central business district - the focus of conflicts on Tuesday was the Chinese University of Hong Kong where police reportedly fired more than 1,000 tear-gas canisters during the day.

The escalation was so grave that those fleeing were not only from the mainland but also Taiwan. Yesterday, at least 85 Taiwanese students headed to the airport by transport arranged by Taipei's representative in the SAR.

It wouldn't surprise me if some Hong Kong parents have also started planning to transfer their children from local universities to overseas higher education institutions to keep them safe from fire bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Hong Kong has become unsafe, particularly for youngsters.

Some cynics may delight in seeing the mainland students leaving while others may hit back saying Hong Kong would soon die without the mainlanders.

In the past, both Vietnam and Malaysia were anti-Chinese but it is ironic Hong Kong is following suit. The violent situation engulfing us is totally absurd.

When the police-student battle broke out at CUHK, social media was gripped by a message that police were trying to seize control of an important internet exchange facility based in the university so that it could monitor almost all internet traffic through artificial intelligence.

It was later clarified the police were there to take control of a bridge that crosses Tolo Highway to prevent anyone from throwing debris to obstruct the traffic below.

The level of violence has escalated so badly that now even the western media has started to rethink the social unrest. When the anti-government movement started it was peaceful which earned it international admiration.

But as soon as innocent members of the public were seriously affected or even wounded, the movement was doomed to become something else.

Everyone wants freedom and yet, as I have repeated numerous times in this column, violence can never be the means.

Once the innocents become the victims, the moral ground is lost.

It was outrageous that a man covered in black threw a brick to injure a motorist just because the latter left his car to remove barricades obstructing his passage.

It was no less outrageous to see a school bus loaded with kindergaten pupils stopped on the road.

Violence of all sorts must be denounced.

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