Executive Councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun has said schools should meet with the parents of students who wish to set up groups to advocate independence from China, in order to “understand how their family background affected them.”

Law was responding to recent calls from students to form such groups and participate in student union elections. She said schools must decide which of those groups should be allowed to run.

“I don’t think these organisations should form the proper student unions, or even be the chief of the unions – this should not be allowed,” she said. “But teachers need to give guidance to and understand why these students think like that”

Fanny Law
Fanny Law. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

The former education minister also said that schools could invite members of the National People’s Congress or the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference to give talks with students, if schools found difficulty in handling the matter.

“I have been to a school to talk about the Basic Law and the One Country, Two Systems principle before the umbrella movement – students asked me a lot of questions, this is good” she said.

Hong Kong history

She said every student has to study the Basic Law, and students of different levels could be taught using different means. For instance primary school students would only need to know “the law bans killing people, it is not good to lie,” in an effort to explain that the Basic Law states Hong Kong is a part of China.

She added that in junior secondary school levels, students can learn the history of the opium war and the reason for Hong Kong’s return to China. Higher level students can study the drafting process of the Basic Law and the negotiations behind the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Eddie Ng
Eddie Ng visiting Beijing in discussion of independence ideas in schools with the Chinese Ministry of Education. Photo: GovHK.

Law’s words came as the Education Bureau recently said that teachers should not advocate for Hong Kong independence in schools, as they may lose their qualifications.

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim then asked 30 public school principals to ban Hong Kong independence activities in their schools during meetings with them.

But last Saturday, Ng clarified that the existing regulations, such as the Codes of Aids, Education Ordinance and the Professional Code have provided enough guidelines for teachers and principals to follow, without suggesting the need for a new set of guidelines towards independence advocates in schools.

“In the past few years, we have accumulated experiences from different incidents – we think we have to believe in principals, teachers and schools’ professionalism and abilities in handling this matter, so our consensus is there is no need for other guidelines,” he told reporters.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.