Date
11 December 2017
Pro-democracy groups distribute pieces of red cloth as part of a protest against government "brainwashing" as senior Chinese official Li Fei delivers a speech on the Basic Law on Thursday. Photo: HKEJ
Pro-democracy groups distribute pieces of red cloth as part of a protest against government "brainwashing" as senior Chinese official Li Fei delivers a speech on the Basic Law on Thursday. Photo: HKEJ

Democrats launch blindfold protest against Li Fei’s speech

Several pro-democracy groups called on students to cover their eyes with red cloth as a way of protesting against the government’s “brainwashing” after they were told to watch the live broadcast of a speech by a senior Beijing official about the Basic Law.

People Power, one of the groups organizing the blindfold protest, set up booths outside government secondary schools in Sha Tin, Shau Kei Wan and Kwun Tong on Thursday morning to distribute pieces of red cloth for the students, Apple Daily reports.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should not have claimed the government did not force students to watch the live broadcast while frivolously telling them just to close the eyes if they didn’t want to watch, People Power vice chairman Tam Tak-chi said on Wednesday.

Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee and deputy secretary-general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, delivered a speech about Hong Kong’s role and mission as a special administrative region of China at a seminar on the Basic Law on Thursday.

The seminar is part of the activities marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty.

Interviewed by media after he arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday night, Li expressed his gratitude to students and parents who would watch his speech on television.

The Education Bureau (EDB) admitted that it had sent letters inviting sponsoring bodies of secondary schools to encourage them to arrange for the live broadcast of the seminar in their respective campuses but purely on a voluntary basis.

According to the bureau, a total of 50 secondary schools accepted the invitation and agreed to arrange for their students to watch Li’s speech live.

Retired teacher James Hon Lin-shan, spokesman of the League in Defense of Hong Kong’s Freedoms, one of the protest organizers, on Wednesday said asking students to watch live broadcasts of speeches on campus violates the Education Ordinance, which stipulates that the education chief is responsible for giving directions to the school management with regard to the dissemination of information or expression of opinion of a political nature in that school to ensure that such information or opinion is unbiased.

But the EDB stressed that it is the obligation of schools to help students understand better the provisions of the Basic Law. It slammed the groups for targeting students in their off-campus political propaganda activities.

Schools should consider seeking help from law enforcement authorities if they find their students being disturbed by these groups, the bureau said.

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