Education activist Isaac Cheng slammed the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese on Friday for advising dozens of schools it manages not to let their students take part in ‘outside activities’ while in uniform without prior approval, calling it a laughable requirement that stifles personal freedom.
The Catholic Education Office had issued an internal memo on Thursday stressing that schools should not be a place to make political demands or spread ideas of “hatred and violence.”
But Cheng said it’s ridiculous for the office to ban students from engaging in unapproved after-school activities without prior approval.
“Wearing any kind of clothes is the freedom and the rights of a student, and a lot of students are not only going to protest, but going for, for example tutorial class,” he said
“So if you think that joining those activities has to be approved by the schools, this is not reasonable, and this is hilarious somehow for the Hong Kong society.”
Cheng said this is a transparent attempt to discourage students from joining any protests.
He also accused the diocese of submitting to the government’s will, saying it appears that the diocese is moving away from its more liberal positions, and “they are not defending freedoms any more.”
He noted that church leaders had also recently pressured a Catholic group into dropping a crowdfunding campaign to buy ads in newspapers to pray for democratic development in Hong Kong in the wake of the imposition of the national security law.
He accused the church of “surrendering” to the government, suggesting it is adopting an increasingly conservative stance to protect its interests in Hong Kong.