SCMP Saturday, November 18, 2000

Affluent students lack focus, says Tung aide


Student quality is falling because, in an increasingly affluent society, many believe they do not have to focus on their future, Exco Convenor Leung Chun-ying said last night.
However, Mr Leung said he was satisfied there was still a need to expand tertiary education. Mr Leung, 46, a professional surveyor and council chairman of Lingnan University, was speaking on RTHK's live TV interview show Leaders of Hong Kong.
Recently, university president and economist Professor Edward Chen Kwan-yiu openly accused students of lacking motivation to learn. The president, who teaches introductory economics, said many students were late for classes or chatted during lectures.
Mr Leung said: "Perhaps society gets wealthier and it seems some students are not so concerned about their future as students in the past."
Recalling his youth, he said: "When I was about 10 years old, my mother had to assemble plastic flowers [to help support the family] and I helped deliver the products to the factory. I also helped buy food in the market. Our family worked very hard."
He did not think the rapid expansion of tertiary education was the cause of the falling standards, saying the Government had the responsibility to produce talent for society.
On politics, Mr Leung said democratic development should follow what was stated in the Basic Law, the mini-constitution which he helped draft. He said: "Everybody wants democracy. But democracy should not be measured simply by the number of directly elected seats."
He agreed Exco members should meet legislators more often to discuss policies, but said it should not be the duty of Exco members to go to Legco to explain government policies.
Leaders of Hong Kong replaced the controversial Headliner, which was criticised by pro-Beijing politicians for refusing to toe the government line. RTHK says Headliners will return next year.