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Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 00:48
HK leaders stress illegality of separatism
By Luis Liu
Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 00:48 By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - Leaders of Hong Kong on Monday said the notion of “Hong Kong independence” contravenes the city’s constitutional status and urged people to focus on more important issues.

Amid the row caused by students putting up pro-independence posters and banners on local campuses, the government’s legal chief – Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung – said separatism violates the Basic Law. Such a notion is not worthy of being discussed, he added.

”Hong Kong independence” contravenes the special administrative region’s constitutional and legal status, and is not beneficial to Hong Kong in any way, Yuen said. He said it was more constructive for people to focus on other serious issues facing the city.

His views were echoed by Basic Law expert Lau Siu-kai, who is vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies. Lau supported the joint statement issued by 10 Hong Kong university presidents against recent separatist activities.

He pointed out that putting up posters and banners was a political act. It was promoting separatist ideas – not academic discussion – and therefore intolerable.

Universities must handle calls for independence on campuses properly as concern about the issue has increased in the community, Lau noted. He said it was vital for schools to safeguard their autonomy. Otherwise, some members of the public, alarmed about these issues, might enter university campuses and act, Lau said.

“And the SAR government or the central government, who have a responsibility to fight against separatism, may also have to take action,” he warned.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung also supported the university presidents’ joint statement. Yeung said he believed universities could handle the issues well.

He said ideas of ”Hong Kong independence” violate the Basic Law and are out of touch with the realities of life in Hong Kong.

Yeung ensured that the Education Bureau would maintain communication with academic institutions over this issue.

The separatism row started after posters and banners advocating “Hong Kong independence” appeared on Hong Kong university campuses at the beginning of the new semester. In one of the most widely reported incidents, the controversy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong was followed by an intense confrontation between student union members and mainland students.

Presidents of 10 universities in Hong Kong issued a joint statement last Friday condemning the “Hong Kong independence” ideas and also the abuse of freedom of expression.

luisliu@chinadailyhk.com

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