Illegal activities that spread secessionist ideas and fan violence have largely abated since the National Security Law took effect in Hong Kong, but the instigators remain active on university campuses and have stepped up their hatemongering campaign since the new semester began. Student unions controlled by separatist advocates have been busy spreading separatist ideas and hatred toward the Chinese mainland on every occasion they can find, including orientation meetings. Even campus TV was used to broadcast secessionist programs. And students from the mainland were openly harassed, bullied and even attacked. University managements and relevant authorities must stop such manifestations of bad faith and unlawful behavior without delay, lest the mayhem that plagued university campuses late last year resurge.
According to Articles 20 through 23 of the National Security Law, a person who incites, assists in, abets or funds secessionist or subversive attempts with cash or other financial assets has committed a national security crime. The special administrative region government also announced soon after the enactment of the law that separatist slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” are illegal. The Hong Kong Police Force has arrested several individuals for suspected violations of the National Security Law, such as displaying secessionist slogans.
University campuses are not a refuge for criminal offenders. Relevant departments of the SAR government and the police force, as well as university managements, are obligated to stop activities that could threaten national security by any means necessary. Effective measures are needed to stop the spread of separatism and hate against the mainland, and failure to do so can leave university managements guilty of negligence. And the relevant authorities, including the Education Bureau and police, may be guilty of exercising lax supervision.
Hong Kong society must not allow riots that cause serious damage to universities, like those that gripped the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong last year, to ever happen again. From June 2019 to February, 7,549 people were arrested for illegal assembly and acts of violence. Of them, 40 percent were students — the largest social category. Instead of acquiring knowledge and skills, they found themselves on the wrong side of Hong Kong law, awaiting trial, behind bars and even on the run from justice as fugitives.
A large number of young people took part in the “black violence” because the education system failed them. Numerous students have been hoodwinked by ill-motivated politicians with such dangerous notions as “seeking justice by breaking laws” and a twisted understanding of “civil disobedience”. During the “black revolution”, school managements, instead of guiding students to behave responsibly, often turned a blind eye or backed away for fear of criminal endangerment. It is fair to say that some university managements watched their charges sink deeper and deeper into an abyss, and their campuses turned into playgrounds for violent rioters. Their inaction is one of the main reasons why so many students now have a criminal record and their futures are ruined.
All university managements must learn this costly lesson and do some serious soul-searching to find out exactly what went wrong. It is the only way to not repeat those mistakes. School administrations must prove their worth by ridding campuses of unlawful behavior, particularly activities suspected of violating the National Security Law.
The SAR government, which funds most local universities, must not shy away from taking more effective measures to counter such excuses as “campus autonomy” and “academic independence”. When needed, the police force must carry out its law-enforcement duties regardless of where and who is posing a threat to public safety and national security.
HONG KONG NEWS