Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Children as Pawns

Young children in PLA uniform attended Sunday's inauguration of the cadets
The push back against Occupy has already begun with the formation of the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association. Apparently it is aimed to make youngsters "aware of their responsibilities and obligations are Chinese citizens", but there's a lot of confusion surrounding it.

On Sunday the group was formally inaugurated in Ngong Shuen Chau naval base, a restricted area on Stonecutters Island, with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's wife Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee dressed in uniform as the group's "commander-in-chief".

Only select media were allowed to attend, including Wen Wei Po and China Central Television, were allowed to attend.

Many senior government officials were there, including Leung, central government liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming, Security Secretary Lai Tung-kwok, Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim, and Youth Commission chairman Bunny Chan Chung-bun.

Controversy surrounds the cadets and their function in HK
Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa is said to be the group's honorary president and his wife Betty Tung Chiu Hung-ping is said to be an honorary adviser.

Apparently some 200 members of the association marched in the event, but now it has been revealed that many were duped into attending, drafted to make the numbers of recruits look better.

One of the "recruits" named Jackie, claimed he saw an ad for the event posted on Facebook for alumni of a military summer camp organized by the Education Bureau, the PLA and a non-profit group called Concerted Efforts Resource Centre.

Those who took part in the ceremony would get a free PLA uniform. He agreed to go along and was told by staff from Concerted Efforts that he was not being recruited to the cadets.

However, he and others were introduced as "members from different columns" of the association.

Another Form One student said all 120 of his classmates attended the event on the understanding that they were spectators.

Some people, including Wong Yeung-tat, leader of pro-democracy group Civic Passion, are concerned the cadet group would use military training to indoctrinate young people with Communist Party values.

"It will make it easier to accept the sets of values being taught to them," he said.

So Wong has announced Civic Passion will form a group of 14 to 18 year olds who will counter the cadet group, which is open for those six years and above. What these teens will do is unclear, but surely a direct polar opposite of the cadets.

When children are young, some take part in groups like Beavers, Scouts and Girl Scouts. They learn survival skills like camping to first aid, teamwork as well as compassion for others.

What are these young people learning in cadets? Are they being taught what exactly "rule of law" means? Are they expected to cite the Basic Law by heart? Perhaps they have to practice marching, singing the national anthem and conducting the flag raising ceremony?

And why are the secrecy surrounding the inauguration and not allowing other media outlets to attend? What is there to hide?

But more importantly, do these children realize they look like they are being used as pawns in the war of rhetoric that is further dividing the city...

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