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Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 00:49

Local experts denounce ‘independence’ advocacy

By Li Yinze

HONG KONG - Political experts voiced their concerns on Monday about the advocacy of separatism in schools, warning such ideas threaten both Hong Kong’s stability and the younger generation’s future.

They urged teachers to stand firm against the radical ideology and prevent potential national security woes from polarizing schools and further dividing the society.

The heavyweights shared their observations at a forum on the emergence of the “Hong Kong independence” notion, organized by local newspaper Wen Wei Po on Monday. The forum came after an online group appealed on its social media page to all secondary school students to establish “localist organizations” on campus.

“Any calls for ‘Hong Kong independence’ will lead to tragedy for the city, and nobody wants to see that,” said Chan Yan-chong, adjunct professor from the Department of Management Sciences at City University of Hong Kong.

He said young students generally spend more time interacting with their teachers than with their parents. “Teachers’ influence on the youngsters is always long-lasting and that is why they should be professional and objective when discussing relevant topics.”

Chan suggested the Education Bureau and Department of Justice work together to prevent teachers spreading separatism on campus.

Wong Kwok-yan, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, stressed that Hong Kong’s status as an inalienable part of China is clarified by the very first article in the Basic Law. The pursuit of “Hong Kong independence” contradicts the basic principle of China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, he cautioned.

Wong explained that the advocacy of separation may constitute a criminal offense under Hong Kong’s Crimes Ordinance regarding treason, sedition and incitement, and the SAR government should take actions to stop such acts in accordance with the law. “The authorities should leave no room for such separatist calls,” Wong stressed.

That part of Hong Kong legislation can be dated back to the colonial time, where persons seeking “to depose Her Majesty from the style, honor and royal name of the Crown of the United Kingdom or of any other of Her Majesty’s dominions, and to manifest such intention by an overt act or by publishing any printing or writing, shall be guilty of treasonable offenses and shall be liable on conviction upon indictment to imprisonment for life”. After the handover in 1997, all terms related to the Queen were replaced by the Central People’s Government.

“Residents in the city enjoy freedom of speech; however, such freedom should not be abused as a shelter for independence advocacy,” Wong said. “Calls for independence have nothing to do with freedom of speech according to the Crimes Ordinance.”

Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress Chan Yung believed the pro-independence activists have little support among adults in Hong Kong and therefore seek to extend their reach to secondary schools to shore up their support base.

“The whole society needs to take actions against the independence advocacy before it’s too late,” Chan said.

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