Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim has said that police can provide assistance to schools if students hand out leaflets outside school doors to promote Hong Kong independence. Police may respond if there is a special need, he said.
Ng was speaking to media after an event on Thursday. He was asked if there were any measures in place as student localist groups have suggested they will hand out materials on the independence issue outside schools once the new academic year begins in September. He claimed that the notion of Hong Kong independence violates the Basic Law and the city is an inalienable part of China.
“I understand that schools know this stance, and they can handle the issue as students receive professional guidance from teachers,” he said. “Outside the schools, if something occurs… schools are very much in touch with the police, and in touch with Education Officers in their districts. If there is a special need, special assistance can be provided.”
James Lam Yat-fung, chairman of the Hong Kong Subsidized Secondary Schools Council, said schools cannot control groups handing out pro-independence leaflets outside schools, reported RTHK.
“Whatever law they have broken, it should be handled by law enforcement agencies,” he said. “We can only say, take the leaflets and see if they are suitable for you… [if school is not] a suitable place to discuss, I will ask them to discuss with their families at home – we do not need to interfere.”
“If students have questions, all teachers have a mission and responsibility… to use their knowledge in their subjects to discuss, such as economics, history, or language,” he added.
Ng also said once again there was no need for a new set of guidelines for schools, after at least two sponsoring bodies issued guidelines for schools against the advocacy of Hong Kong independence.
“As far as the overall guideline[s] and principles are concerned, they are there already – as I mentioned – through the Education Ordinance, the Subvention Ordinance and so on. So they are all there. So it depends on individual schools and individual groups of teachers and so on, and their own sort of purposes,” he said.
“I said, I believe I would have to respect the schools and school sponsoring bodies, the professionals and their judgement as to what to do would be the best, as they have the professionalism, which has been highly regarded all the way.”
Responding to questions over the Council on Professional Conduct in Education, he said that the agenda of a council meeting next week did not include an item about amending the professional code of teachers related to the discussion of independence.
But he added that the council may discuss the related issues due to public concern over the meeting.