“Teach children how to face the pressure,” Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has said in a column published on Monday in the Chinese newspaper AM730.

Tsang’s column comes after a protest on Saturday in which around 100 secondary school students protested outside Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim’s car. Ng was leaving after attending a school anniversary event and was criticised for not accepting the students’ letter, choosing instead to use his phone.

“If children are having problems because they can’t bear the pressure, complaining about the stress doesn’t help; you should teach children how to face the pressure,” Tsang said.

Tsang said that he was asked by primary school children how to do well in school a few days ago. “I answered, if you want to do well in school, there is no strategy, there is only hard work; when I was young, my parents were very strict. I studied quite hard. Is there pressure? Of course; no matter the era, no matter if it’s an adult or a child, who doesn’t have pressure?”

Stress and pressure levels at school are a persistent topic in Hong Kong. The city has faced a spate of stress-related incidents in the last months. Parents and teachers have called for the abolition of the TSA tests, which have been criticised for being too difficult. Since September, there have also been 20 cases of student suicide.

High Speed Rail Link debate

Tsang also responded to the controversial approval of an extra HK$19.6 billion for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link on March 11.

“[It] would have to be a very exceptional situation, if we reopen the debate on a motion which has already been voted on…. it is the decision of the council or the committee.  So if some member wants to move the same motion again, the chairman of the committee or the president of the council will have to consider, whether it is worthwhile reopening the debate?”

A sudden vote was called. Photo: StandNews.

Additional funds totalling HK$19.6 billion for the project were approved in a sudden vote through the raising of hands, despite fierce protests and filibustering from pan-democratic lawmakers. About 20 pan-democratic lawmakers were ordered to leave the meeting room by acting chairman of the committee Chan Kam-lam as they attempted to occupy Chan’s table to suspend the meeting.

If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.