Emma Stone, after receiving her award for best actress at the Oscars, gave a press conference whereupon a Hong Kong reporter was given her chance to ask a question. Temmy Ting, a reporter from Apple Daily, embarrassed the Oscars winner by asking her, in fluent English, whether she would treat Emma Watson to dinner or a drink, considering that Watson had previously turned down the lead role for La La Land, allowing Stone to take the role instead. Emma Stone was lost for words, aghast at the quality of the question, something that one might find on a tabloid, but what one would not expect from a reporter that was allowed into such a prestigious arena. Not only did Temmy Ting insult the award-winning actress by suggesting that she won by the acting role alone and not the quality of her acting, that Stone only got lucky by receiving a “hand-me-down”, but the Apple Daily reporter also made a laughing stock of Hong Kong journalism with such an obtuse and uncouth question. Putting salt to the wound, Ting wrote that the other reporters on the scene were happy that she asked a question on everyone’s mind, when in fact they were ridiculing at her lack of class.
Recently, a group of students from the University of Hong Kong went on a charity trip to northern Thailand, where they were supposed to volunteer as teachers for the kids at a local school. Instead of showing propriety by dining with their host, the students went to the nearest town for meals, spending more time in town sightseeing than actually teaching, rejected a planned excursion by the school’s principal, and worst of all, made the kids wait for 3 hours while dressed in their costume in preparation for a play to farewell the visitors. The principal showed class in his assessment, politely commenting that perhaps the “volunteering” students were not mentally prepared, instead of being openly critical; but a Hong Kong dignitary who also attended the trip was not so diplomatic, accusing the university students of sullying a long-running charity programme with their blatantly rude misbehaviour. Yet, these Hong Kong youths were unremorseful, their response suggested they saw their ill-manner as inconsequential, saying that they did not realise punctuality was such an issue to the “adults”, and that they did apologise to the school principal for their non-attendance.
Harkening back to the 2016 Legislative Council elections, after Edward Leung from Hong Kong Indigenous was disqualified to compete in the election, he and Ray Wong decided to piggyback off Youngspirations by endorsing Baggio Leung to run in their stead. They approached the former legislative councillor Wong Yukman to advise him of their plans and asked for his response, to which Yukman suggested that perhaps they could endorse Cheng Kam-mun as well for competing for in the Hong Kong Island electorate, since Youngspirations had no candidate there, and that they do not openly show support to any other candidates other than Youngspirations. Both Edward Leung and Ray Wong told Yukman that they would have to ask their fellow members at Hong Kong Indigenous first, but for weeks they gave no reply to Yukman’s request, yet without notice they stood with another competitor during a televised election forum. Not able to hold back, Yukman in the Civic-Proletariat-Resurgence election coalition’s final rally revealed what went on behind the scene, gently chastising Leung and Wong for lack of honour and basic manners. However, Hong Kong Indigenous supporters returned fire at Yukman and the Civic-Proletariat-Resurgence coalition, accusing us of making much ado about nothing, saying that Leung and Wong were under no obligation to provide Yukman with a response.
What these three incidents points to is that the younger generations in Hong Kong these days lack basic discipline in propriety, no longer seeing the point of manners and showing disrespect for the “old ways”. Partially at fault is Hong Kong’s education system, and the “adults” at large, for failing to impart basic manners in the next generations whilst they are young, instead focusing on promoting commercially beneficial skills. Kids are taught to spell the word “condensation” in kindergartens but not in elementary etiquette; they are taught mathematics beyond their years, but not good conduct that even a Western kindergartener would observe. Hong Kong kids are forcibly made to take a perfect score in the TSA test, but the adults are laissez-faire when it comes to social behaviours. The Hong Kong adults, in their authoritarian demeanour, made the “old ways” sour in the younger generations’ minds, then laments that kids these days do not respect their elders. The world is a mess because of our own making, when adults point fingers at the young generations, three fingers points right back at you.