Former Chief Executive CY Leung on Tuesday appeared to compare young Hongkongers taking part in anti-government protests to Islamic terrorists, suggesting they could be brainwashed to the extent that they would be willing to slaughter people in the streets.
In an exclusive interview with RTHK, Leung said it couldn't be normal that hundreds of under 18s had been arrested during the territory's recent social unrest, and he believes teachers have been "radicalising" them.
He suggested that Hong Kong children could even be groomed to carry out atrocities similar to those perpetrated by terrorists abroad.
"In Europe recently we saw the scary incident in which a person was beheaded... they [terrorists] are not born like that. They have been brainwashed," Leung said.
"In Hong Kong, are the local young people immune to that? To that sort of radicalisation? I don't think so."
Leung also told RTHK that he has no plans "at the moment" to put himself forward for the post of chief executive again.
He said he was more keen to help hold teachers accountable for their "brainwashing" of students, and was considering launching legal action against schools he suspects are breaching the national security law with some of their lessons.