Discussions to modify the Code for the Education Profession of Hong Kong are set to begin next week at the Council on Professional Conduct in Education. Some in the education sector, however, fear suppression as rumours swirl that the subject of Hong Kong independence may be added to the professional code in order to ban discussion on the topic.

Council Chairperson Chow Ping-yan told Apple Daily that he had received many inquiries from parents, teachers as well as the public as to whether there would be any discussion of adding Hong Kong independence into the code. Chow said that “they will talk about the problem of Hong Kong independence on school campuses, because the code does not state the situation [of talking about independence] clearly.”

eddie ng
Secretary for Education Eddie Ng. File Photo: Stand News.

However, the Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim told local media that “according to my understanding, and what I have been told by colleagues, there is no such item [independence] on the agenda.”

He said again that advocation of Hong Kong independence was against the Basic Law and the One Country, Two Systems principle. He also said that the idea “should not appear on campuses.”

james hon lin-shan
James Hon Lin-shan.

James Hon Lin-shan, a member of the senate of the council, told Apple Daily that if the code encompasses a ban on advocating for Hong Kong independence, “those from the outside could make complaints about a teacher, the Education Bureau could then ask to process the matter, and use the code to take away the teacher’s qualifications.” He said that it may amount to suppression and asked if “in the future maybe terms such as self-determination, political reform, civil nomination will be added into the code and banned?”

Special coverage: The Hong Kong independence debate.

He also said that although members of the council were to be re-elected in April this year, the government had suggested extending the elections and maintaining the present council for one year. The council has already broken down, he said, and it is illegal to extend the term, rather than to re-elect members of the council.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.