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Hong Kong: School drug testing scheme

The Hong Kong government insisted to go ahead in implementing the school drug testing scheme despite a growing concern over its violation of children's rights. The pilot scheme will involve 23 schools in Tai Po district (Northeastern part of Hong Kong) in coming December. Under the government proposal, parents will sign for children under 18 to give consent for collecting urine samples at schools.

However, privacy commissioner Roderick Woo Bun challenged the proposal and pointed out that guardians had no authority to give consent on behalf of a minor. Hong Kong Bar Association also pointed out that the government proposal is self-incriminatory and has violated children's rights. The Catholic church criticized that the drug test is against the principle of love and trust in education.

The making of drug addict suspects

Even though there is no scientific proof of the effectiveness of school drug testing, the government still wanted to push it forward. The Chief Executive Donald Tsang said:

若學生不肯驗毒,那是給予學校、社工和家長信息,讓他們及早介入,輔導吸毒學生。

If student refused to do drug test, it sends a signal to the schools, social workers and parents that they should do something to intervene, to give counseling to the addicted students.

Those were the days pointed out the danger of such logic:

即學生不肯驗毒=學生已/懷疑吸毒,這,豈不等於不肯讓警察搜身等於犯法?

It means that if students refuse to take the drug test = students would be in suspicion of taking drug. Which means if you refuse to let police search your body, you would be in suspicion of having committed crimes?

Charles Mok elaborated the argument and pointed out that the scheme is an excuse to discipline obedient citizenry:

大人物、校長堅稱計劃不會帶來標籤效應,但事實上無論是家長不簽回條讓子女參加、學生拒驗,在任何一個環節不肯乖乖就範,也必然被標籤為「疑似吸毒犯」,驗前驗後承受重大壓力,年紀小小的學生無奈接受之餘,有何長期心理影響無法評估。對政府而言,卻正是個培訓順民好機會。

Big names and school principals claimed that the drug test would not bring labeling effect. But in reality, if parents refuse to sign letter of consent or if students refuse to cooperate, they would be labeled as “drug addict suspects” and have to face a lot of pressure. Most would just submit themselves to the authority and we are yet to evaluate such kind of psychological impact to our children. Of course, the government would take it as a great opportunity to discipline and cultivate obedient citizenry.

Government against its own law

Wong On Yin looked into the Dangerous drugs ordinance (CAP 134, 49D), which prohibits the disclosure of records without the consent of the addict.

政府的安排,不但老師、社工、校長、家長知,還有就是連警察也知,早無機密可言,完全違反法例。

The government's scheme would disclose the test result not only to teachers, social workers, principals and parents, but also polices. It is completely against the existing law.

It is quite obvious that the school drug testing scheme is in conflict with existing laws and regulations, which makes the Secretary of Justice Wong Yan-Lung's role in the campaign more problematic. Neoak pointed out that as the head of the judiciary, Wong should have warned the government of the legal implications of such policy, rather than telling unprofessional lie in front of the media:

由於校園自願性驗毒計劃過於粗疏,惹來社會上廣泛的批評,政府面對如此局面,未有從善如流,反而更加著力去推動計劃,以為可以借著於暑假期間多宗學生濫藥 的事故,沿用在豬流感疫症早期證實有效的「恐慌式公關手段」,霸皇硬上弓,甚至不惜要身為律政司司長的黃仁龍粉墨登場,親身上前線向傳媒解畫,強調「推行 禁毒刻不
容援」,甚至睜著眼說謊指「美國對校園驗毒成效較為正面」…

Since the whole scheme is so full of flaws. When confront with criticisms, the government still insists to push forward by making use of summer holiday student drug abuse stories. Such kind of “panic public relation” measure has been effective in the H5N1 epidemic, that's why the government is so confident to push it hard. It even asked the Secretary of Justice Wong Yan-Lung to take up the show and explain to the media that “the scheme should not be deferred anymore”. He even lied about the effectiveness of the School drug test in the U.S…

事實上,在事件之中,律政司司長應該嚴守本身的專業,早於規劃之初就應該向有關官員點明,驗毒計劃的多個問題,包括屬於本身範疇的「私隱條例之衝突」,又或起碼,先經內部諮詢,與私隱專員進行商討…黃仁龍在事件之中的問題,是走得太前…

The Secretary of Justice should have uphold his own professional judgement and explained to other government officials on the legal problem of the drug test, such as its conflict with privacy ordinance. Or he should have conducted some internal consultation… Wong's main problem is that he has played too strong a role in this political campaign.

Where's the public consensus?

Although the government claimed that it has public consensus for the policy (even though there is no public consultation document issued so far) and campaign propaganda have penetrated all major mainstream media, the public opinion in the Internet tells another story:

In the facebook, 1,122 members have joined the group: Respect young people! Protest against the compulsory school drug testing political show! (尊重青年人!強烈抗議「假自願、真強逼」校園驗毒大龍鳳!)While the group supporting drug test only has 43 members.

Doctor Fat suggests a brain test for government top officials:

這幾天忙於預備醫學既PRESENTATION,未有空去理會學生驗尿驗毒的新聞,今日得知民主黨和民建聯竟然贊成驗毒,實在令人可怒也。
我個第一個反應是:要學生留小便驗毒,不如叫高官議員開左個頭驗腦。

In the past few days, I was busy preparing a medical presentation and had not paid attention to the drug test news. I just found out that DP and DAB both supported drug test. I was very angry.

My first reaction is: if students have to test urine, the top government official should test their brain!

Leflamme posted a comic at inmediahk.net to mock at the drug test scheme. The comic depicts school life as: sharing of homework, food and then urine!

pee-comics

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