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Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 16:37

Leung warns teachers over ‘independence issue’


Leung warns teachers over ‘independence issue’
In this file photo, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying meets the media and answer the result of the meeting with mainland authority at Central Government Office on 6 July 2016. (Parker Zheng/China Daily)
HONG KONG – Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Tuesday dismissed discussions about “Hong Kong independence” declaring the special administrative region’s role as a part of China a matter of right versus wrong.

Speaking to reporters prior to the weekly Executive Council meeting, Leung took a strong stand on the role of teachers, saying it is they who are responsible for guiding students to distinguish right from wrong and that students should deepen their knowledge of right and wrong by examining Hong Kong’s constitutional status and the Basic Law.

He added that murmurs about “Hong Kong independence” spreading among schools and society at large, undermine Hong Kong’s stability and damage the vital relationship between the city and the mainland.

Leung added the government will not validate student organizations in schools, intent on campaigning to overturn the law.

The Education Bureau earlier warned that teachers who advocate “Hong Kong independence” would face disqualification or be denied qualification, after the Academy of School Managers issued a statement, on August 14 alleging that some teachers were promoting independence in schools and working toward forming groups to advocate for separation. Localist groups had earlier called for extensive discussion of the subject at secondary schools and urged groups in support of the movement  to take part in student unions to further the cause.

Secretary for Justice Yuen Kowk-keung, on a separate event during his visit to Shenzhen on Tuesday, said that despite the freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Basic Law, it also should be regulated and has its legal restriction.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) on Monday said it doesn't approve of teachers advocating “independence” ideas. It urged teachers to be professional and objective during discussions with students on controversial issues.

Chairman of the Committee on Home-School Co-operation Tong Sau-chai said that parents are deeply concerned about activities advocating “Hong Kong independence” on campuses, as they fear their children could be criminally liable and harm their future prospects by contributing to the spread of the ideology.

The committee, established to promote home-school cooperation and relations, comprises members from parents, educators of various education tiers and government officials.

Speaking after a meeting with the Secretary for Education Ng Hak-kim, Tong said Ng has promised to support parents and schools in dealing with discussions of “Hong Kong independence” on campuses. Tong added that during the meeting Ng urged students not to participate in such activities.

Tong said students should discuss “independence” objectively and rationally, and such discussion should be conducted carefully under the framework of the Basic Law. Parents believe in and respect teachers’ professionalism in guiding students, he added.

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