Date
22 September 2017
Pro-independence high school group Studentlocalism shows up in provacative shirts. A Chinese legal chief says the subject of Hong Kong independence should never be allowed to enter schools. Photo: Facebook/Studentlocalism
Pro-independence high school group Studentlocalism shows up in provacative shirts. A Chinese legal chief says the subject of Hong Kong independence should never be allowed to enter schools. Photo: Facebook/Studentlocalism

Now, we can’t even think independence

It’s called poison by the government but for the rest of us, it’s simply independence or the idea of it.

But it might well be a toxic cocktail if it’s allowed to destroy our moral compass because we are deprived of any chance to judge right from wrong.

As far as China is concerned — and by extension its surrogate administration in Hong Kong — the issue should never be allowed to enter our schools.

And we Hong Kongers, in general, might be in breach of the Basic Law simply by talking about it.

Except for frequent mentions by localist and pro-independence parties in the run-up to the Sept. 4 Legislative Council elections, there had been no talk of the subject of independence quite as frighteningly as that by Beijing’s top legal official in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, Wang Zhenmin said any talk of independence in schools would “poison children”. 

Speaking at a seminar in Shenzhen, Wang said the Hong Kong community has been tolerant of people who advocate independence.

“The bottom line is that they must not be allowed to become legislators and the discussion must not be allowed to enter schools,” Wang said.

The question is how are these officials to gauge how much Hong Kong people loathe the idea if their proponents are not allowed to be crushed at the polls?

Similarly, how are our schoolchildren to know that independence is a bad (make that poisonous) advocacy if they’re not told about it?

We wonder what twisted logic is being pursued here that if no one talked about the subject, it would simply go away.

Independence is a concept, an ideal that lives and grows in the mind, not an object you can throw around or sweep under the carpet.

Its physical manifestations are in human conduct. This is the part of independence that can be curtailed, suppressed or crushed.

Free speech and freedom of choice are some of those manifestations but does the government really think it can control thought?

Similarly, if teachers were prevented from explaining independence, how would students know the difference? 

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary of Justice Rimsky Yuen are themselves unsure how to rid students of this “evil”.

Leung merely said that teachers have a responsibility to guide students by telling them right from wrong on the issue of Hong Kong independence.

He said the Basic Law, all 160 articles of it, has some  provisions that are more important than others.

For example, he said articles that relate to Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong are unchangeable.

Yuen said freedom of speech is limited by law, implying that any discussion of Hong Kong independence is not protected by free speech.

In fact, there are no such restrictions. Hong Kong people can think and discuss whatever topic they want.

Assuming such restrictions do exist, how would anyone know what a person is thinking?

The Professional Teacher’s Union is seeking clarification from the Education Bureau.

Union head Fung Wai-wah said the policy on the subject of independence is open to different interpretations.

It’s unfair for the government to put the political burden on teachers, he said.

Hong Kong independence is a political issue, not merely an academic topic.

It requires more deliberation and more careful consideration than the government is willing to undertake.

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SC/AC/RA

EJ Insight writer

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