Mr Clive Chan, Headmaster

Mr Chan has extensive experience in teaching English to people of all ages and abilities. He returned to Hong Kong after spending years studying and working in Australia. He has taught English in different secondary schools and Business English at a university in Hong Kong.

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Dear parents,

 

I love reading and telling stories as it enhances memory and stretches imagination. June is an extremely significant month, and I would like to revisit with you one of the stories I wrote years ago.

“For many years, Middle Kingdom had been closed off to the world.  Behind the extravagant showcase put up by the king and his aides, life was unbearable for many of its people – many died of starvation and a substantial number of them were illiterate.  The king used every possible means to consolidate his power, purging aides who advocated reforms and mesmerizing his people with propaganda that almost portrayed him as a god.

The king died, and for better or for worse, a new king succeeded him and put forward reforms.  He reckoned the most pressing need of the kingdom was to feed all the hungry mouths.  To provide enough food for everyone, the king decreed that every couple living in towns could only have one child, while those living in the rural areas could have the maximum of two.  He did away with beliefs propagated by the previous king such as “everyone should have the equal share of food” to allow a small group of entrepreneurs to run their own business and get rich first, hopefully followed by an increased wealth for everyone.

Ten years on, Middle Kingdom had become much more prosperous than before.  Bright young people got exposed to modern ideas of democracy and accountability of the government.  And as the new king had envisaged, a very small number of businesspeople did get rich.  However, graft and bribes abounded because these entrepreneurs had to buy off the king’s aides.  Underneath the prosperous façade, Middle Kingdom was a totalitarian and extremely corrupt entity.

Discontent slowly grew among people living in the kingdom, particularly among college students.  The king had two prominent aides, Woody and Zack, who were sympathetic with the students.  The king later sacked Woody who was accused by his opponents of implanting liberal ideas that would unsettle the kingdom.

Two years later, Woody died and many students were gripped by grief and anger.  They staged a memorial procession at Heavenly Peace Square, which in turn became a peaceful demonstration against the king’s corrupt aides.  Some of them started a hunger strike and were delighted to find that they were cheered on by hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, factory workers and even farmers from the rural areas.

Zack felt for the students but at the same time was keenly aware of the impending purge by the king.  He urged the students to leave the square in vain.  In the end, on the fourth day of June, 7 weeks since the beginning of the movement, the king ordered fully armed soldiers to gun down defenseless civilians.  That was the darkest day in the kingdom’s history.

A lot of parents lost their beloved only son or daughter in the incident.  Many acquiesced to the massacre while those who spoke against it were put in jail.  Zack was put under house arrest until his death.

Many years had passed, but the new king and his aides still refused to admit the mistake made by the previous king.  The kingdom had become even more affluent than before, and most of the younger generation seemed to care little about the incident. 

By contrast, since the crackdown, people from the neighboring Fragrant Island had been holding a candlelight memorial service on the fourth day of June every year.  Pro-king statesmen and businesspeople were urging these people to put their baggage behind and focus on the economic success of the kingdom.  But these wise people refused to allow the rich king to shrug off his culpability of killing his own people and firmly believed that they should do their best to prevent such horrible incident in the kingdom’s history from recurring.”

Inspired by those wise people in the story, I will be attending the June 4 vigil in Victoria Park as I do almost every year.  As Gandhi said, there may not be any immediate result, but if we do nothing, there will be no result.


Yours sincerely,


Clive Chan