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Saturday, August 27, 2016, 00:19

NPC deputy: No place for ‘independence’ discussions in schools

By Joseph Li

HONG KONG - Priscilla Lau Pui-king, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, says it is inappropriate for students to discuss “Hong Kong independence” in schools.

She believes it is wrong for this to happen in secondary schools and also in universities. This is because some academics have violated education principles by encouraging students to break the law. University of Hong Kong (HKU) associate law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who co-organized the illegal “Occupy Central” movement, is a case in point.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Lau said students should not be permitted to discuss through concern groups, not to mention advocate, independence in schools.

“This is because they are still young and immature. If teachers come across the Opium War during history lessons, they should tell the students Hong Kong was a part of China since ancient days but was ceded to Britain after China lost the war,” she explained.

Lau said she is worried when seeing some secondary students openly talking about independence on live radio shows. Some even say they will distribute leaflets to advocate “independence” outside schools the day the new school year restarts.

“For students, it is a very risky thing. If they commit crimes (and are arrested and charged), they will have a criminal record for life and risk their future,” said Lau.

“For media organizations who have private agendas, they are unethical in selectively reporting news about independence,” she added.

Lau dismisses some people’s claims that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is the “father of Hong Kong independence”. Advocacy of separatism became louder after he criticized the HKU student union magazine in his 2015 Policy Address.

“This is only their excuse - just like Donald Trump accusing Barrack Obama of being the founder of ISIS,” she said.

Lau believes the pro-independence activists are not united. They run their own activities to attract public and media attention. Some radicals pursue violence, as seen from the Mong Kok riot on Lunar New Year Day in February, she added.

She noted some people from “localism groups” are running in the Legislative Council election. She fears if they win seats, they will have a platform to advocate separatism. They will enjoy immunity from things they say, and receive financial resources. Also, they may paralyze LegCo or the government with radical actions and filibusters.

She said pro-independence actions in Hong Kong are rampant due to the absence of legislation to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law. The current government has less than a year left in power. She is unsure whether the government in the next term will legislate treason, subversion and sedition offenses.

Lau believes legislation on Article 23 should be initiated as soon as possible. But initially, the law could be more lenient, she suggested.

joseph@chinadailyhk.com

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