Eddie Ng: Campus talk on independence must follow Basic Law

August 19, 2016 13:32
Eddie Ng (left) and Chinese Minister of Education Chen Baosheng agree that any discussion about independence must comply with the Basic Law. Photo: HK government

Hong Kong's education minister says discussions about independence are allowed on campus as long as these are within the framework of the Basic Law.

Eddie Ng said such discussions should be held in the presence of a teacher or guidance counselor, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Ng came back with instructions from the central government after a meeting with Chinese Minister of Education Chen Baosheng and Deputy Minister Du Yubo in Beijing.

Ng said he has no doubt Hong Kong teachers will do their part in a professional manner but added the government will "handle" all issues relating to campus discussions of Hong Kong independence.

Chen and Du support the Education Bureau’s stance that no Hong Kong school should explicitly promote independence or conduct related activities, Ng said.

In a statement, Chen said Hong Kong education officials should strengthen the study of Chinese culture to develop the students' sense of belonging.

Meanwhile, Ng declined to comment whether last week's meeting of eight major university boards was aimed at suppressing any talk of independence.

Apple Daily reports that the Education Bureau "invited" universities and government secondary schools to the meeting.

School principals were told to do everything they can to stop any independence-themed activities.

Ng asked principals of 30 government schools to pass the directive to student unions, parent-teacher associations and alumni associations, the report said.

Two principals from Tuen Mun were questioned about their reluctance to comply, according to the report.

Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen said schools should explain to their students the constitutional status of Hong Kong under the Basic Law before discussing whether Hong Kong independence is constitutional.

Executive Council member Fanny Law appealed for a dispassionate discussion of issues.

She said teachers should set the tone by explaining Article One of the Basic Law which states that Hong Kong is an "inalienable part of China".

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