There is no longer any room for debate that the University of Hong Kong is falling, rapidly, into becoming nothing more than another drone factory, dedicated to providing students with a degree but not an education, whilst they become the property of the state. Granted, if not for efforts by a large number of staff, this would have happened already.
We must note that HKU has long been dedicated to a progressive tutelage, involving a critical discussion of politics, governance and emphasizing the importance of free-thought. Universities must encourage young people to seek new horizons, encompassing innovative methods of governance and leadership, otherwise the future is bleak for any nation. The very fact that academic freedom is being condemned, underlines just quite how dangerous it is to the one-party state pulling the puppets’ strings. HKU is considered to be the pillar of freedom within the tertiary education system, and wider Hong Kong society as a whole. If it falls, the domino effect will include many other liberties. By seeking to limit education, the government seeks to limit the language of dissent which can be used against a dictatorial system, thus limiting opposition thought. Dissent pushes boundaries, seeking progression and productive change, which gives credence to the statement that it can be the highest form of patriotism. These liberal traditions of HKU must be protected, for the sake of the future of Hong Kong and the people in it.
There is a storm coming, whether or not the students act. What must be ensured therefore, is that the fallout of the future can be used productively, for the benefit of our liberty. This coming damage will be a direct consequence of the increasingly belligerent actions of a politically biased chief executive and (new) chairman. Fighting back certainly will not be easy, and will involve cracking some eggs. However, the inevitable cracks can be profited from, if used to give the student and staff body leverage, certifying that we will be heard by our tyrannical leadership. A boycott will state that HKU will not bow to “political masters”, and is willing to defend itself.
A class boycott is the least hostile, but effective, way in which the students can get their message across; HKU will not lie down whilst it is stamped into the mud. It is clear that marches and posters no longer work, they are too readily dismissed by the media as another impotent and half-hearted attempt to stir up some trouble. It would be sheer lunacy, to continue in the same vein in which we currently fail. International recognition, and headlines, which potentially can put pressure on the chain leading from Beijing to Hong Kong, will not be gained through a march. As the aggressive actions against us continue, so will the defensive procedures taken. The boycott may wake up the student body, and the sleeping giant that is international recognition, that serious harm is afoot.
Many will dismiss a potential boycott as children lashing out. This is not the case. The lack of safeguards to abuses by a prejudiced council body justify staff and student action in itself, whilst furthermore, this is not an act of unjustified maleficence but an exercise of self-defence. Since we cannot ask for a guarantee of liberty, this would be an eleventh-hour attempt to seek our own salvation. We must not end up in a situation where being an “academic”, or an “intellectual”, in fact means being a propaganda machine, putting the future generations of Hong Kong at risk. Orwell wrote: “despotic governments can stand moral force until the cows come home; what they fear is physical force” and it is that sentiment which carries an intrinsic justification for students to move forward with the protection of Hong Kong.