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Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 00:49

CE: No room for discussing ‘HK independence’ in schools

By Joseph Li

HONG KONG - Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reiterated on Tuesday that “Hong Kong independence” should not be a discussion topic for secondary school students.

To advocate “Hong Kong independence” in schools has nothing to do with freedom of expression, he said, adding school regulations are often more stringent than laws and schools should know how to handle the issue.

Speaking to the media before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Leung said it is very clear that from the historical, political, legal and constitutional perspectives that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.

“Is there any room for discussion? If students really want to discuss, heads of schools and teachers should demonstrate a very clear, unequivocal position,” he said.

Leung said advocating “Hong Kong independence” in schools has nothing to do with freedom of expression.

“In fact, school regulations are more stringent than laws. For example, if a student utters foul language, he violates the school regulation but does not break the law,” the CE explained.

“A person will not be brought to court for uttering foul language. However, if a student repeatedly utters foul language in school and does not repent, he could be kicked out of school for breaking the school regulation and that is entirely not a question of freedom of expression,” he added.

On a separate occasion, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said promotion of “Hong Kong independence” – including so-called concern groups or societies – should not be allowed in schools. “Hong Kong independence is totally unacceptable because it will all but lead us to a dead end,” she added.

She observed that some young people argue that if Singapore could become independent, why not Hong Kong? In her opinion, many Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese and are distinct from Malays and so an independent Singapore was the way out. Hong Kong is a totally different case because it has been a Chinese territory since ancient times.

Fan also noted that some Hong Kong people think the US and UK will come to the aid of Hong Kong if it becomes independent. She laughed, adding: “They secretly assist, nurture and finance you (Hong Kong dissidents) to give headaches to China and slow its development so that the US can remain the world’s only dominant power. If Hong Kong becomes independent, what is your further use to them?”

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim stressed that “Hong Kong independence” violates the Basic Law and the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. For this reason, pro-independence agendas and activities should not occur in schools.

He added that there are guidelines for schools, such as the Education Ordinance and the code of ethics for professional teachers. The education sector believed that current guidelines were adequate for schools to handle the “independence” issue.

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