Teachers should tackle any discussion of Hong Kong independence like they tackle drugs and swearing in school, said city leader Leung Chun-ying today (Aug. 23).
As Hong Kong independence evolves from a pie-in-the-sky idea just two years ago to a regular topic of discussion, the city’s government is now trying quash the idea by going after teenage students. The education bureau has said that teachers face disqualification if they encourage students to discuss the topic in classrooms, as the idea of Hong Kong independence gains traction among the younger population.
Speaking to reporters, Leung, commonly known as CY, said that advocating Hong Kong independence in schools had nothing to do with freedom of speech.
“School rules are stricter than societal laws. For example, if a student swears in school, this breaks school rules, but it doesn’t break the law… a student can be kicked out for swearing if they fail to rectify their behavior,” he said (link in Chinese). “Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.”
Former education minister Fanny Law said that students advocating Hong Kong independence should have their family backgrounds looked at.
Leung has been credited by some as the “father of Hong Kong independence,” after he pinned blame on an obscure University of Hong Kong student magazine in a policy speech last year for advocating the idea of independence. Since then, the idea has been garnering more and more attention. That prompted the government to implement a new rule stating that candidates in legislative elections, including next month’s, must pledge their support for China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong as enshrined in the city’s mini constitution, the Basic Law. A number of candidates were disqualified from running because of their pro-independence views.
Last week, in response to a question about whether schools should allow students to set up groups discussing Hong Kong independence, Leung compared the need to combat talking about the issue to the fight against drugs.
“Just as each summer I take part in large-scale anti-drugs campaigns, telling young people to stay away from drugs… anyone who is involved in education in some way should express clearly what their position is on matters of debate (like Hong Kong independence),” said Leung (link in Chinese).