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Friday, September 2, 2016, 00:23

Schools advised to take action over ‘independence’ flyers

By Willa Wu and Shadow Li
Schools advised to take action over ‘independence’ flyers

A student yawns while at school on Thursday, the first day of the 2016-17 school year, at Fresh Fish Traders' School in Tai Kok Tsui. (Parker Zheng/China Daily)

HONG KONG - Schools could consider turning to the authorities - even seek police assistance - to prevent the circulation of flyers advocating “Hong Kong independence”, Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim said on Thursday.

Ng noted that members of localist groups had handed out flyers spreading separatist ideas among secondary school youngsters on the first day of the new school year.

He said schools could approach the administration office or even the police to stop these activities if students feel harassed.

Ng reiterated that student discussions of diverse issues should be conducted within the context of the Basic Law.

He said “Hong Kong independence” is a "pseudo-issue" which violates the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. It had no place in legitimate academic discussions.

The education secretary encouraged students to learn more about the Basic Law and the "One Country Two System" principle. These are the foundations of Hong Kong's constitutional status.

Parents and academics have raised concerns about the distribution of the controversial leaflets outside several secondary schools on Thursday.

Lo Wing-sang, associate head and associate professor of History Department at the Hong Kong Shue Yan University, whose son is a Form 2 student, was critical about allowing the discussion of “Hong Kong independence” on campus.

“Something worth discussing about should be something that is plausible. People won’t discuss a ban on smoking and drug-taking on campus as obviously there is no room for discussion for issues like that,” Lo said.

In Lo’s opinion, schools usually have a higher moral standard for teachers, which is why teachers who normally smoke won’t smoke on campus.

Lo thinks that teachers and schools should take a firm stand and say advocating “Hong Kong independence” is unacceptable, as it is against the law.

A mother of a Form 1 student, who refused to be named, said that young students are not mentally mature to understand the issue.

Noticing her son’s recent curiosity about “Hong Kong independence”, she said young people can learn about these discussions from TV, the internet or friends. Parents should guide their children.

A 38-year-old housewife, surnamed Zou, living in the New Territories, said she was worried that her son, a preschooler, will also be exposed to “Hong Kong independence” ideas, if pro-independence teachers promote these ideas to students.

Children are told by their parents to listen to teachers, but they deserve good role models at school, she said.

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