The Education Bureau has criticised Demosisto for misleading the public after the pro-democracy party claimed that a line referring to the watchdog role of the media in a textbook had been removed in a later edition.

Demosisto said in a statement on Saturday that a Hong Kong general studies textbook was changed so that a newer edition no longer states that the media monitors the government or exposes problems in society.

The Education Bureau. File

The party’s comments came after local news outlet i-Cable revealed last week that the Education Bureau’s textbook review group criticised certain phrases in textbooks. The group said that they used inappropriate wording or unclear concepts. These phrases include “Hong Kong is located south of China,” “the Chinese Communist Party’s one-party rule” and “China insisted on taking back Hong Kong’s sovereignty.”

However, an Education Bureau spokesperson told HKFP on Tuesday that it has spoken to the relevant publisher, and learned that the comment on the media’s role was added into the teachers’ edition in 2015 and was for teaching reference. The statement has not been removed, the government said, while the student’s textbook has not been edited since 2008.

The spokesperson said that the party’s inaccurate statements misled the public and subjected the publisher as well as the textbook review mechanism to political pressure, which was “deeply regrettable.”

A comparison between the two versions of the textbook. Photo: Demosisto.

The spokesperson added that the bureau believed the media was an important topic in primary school general studies and they were confident that teachers would teach the subject professionally.

Demosisto told Ming Pao that they welcomed the Education Bureau’s explanation in a case which has been of concern to the public. They added that they hoped political censorship will not extend to other subjects.

The party also urged the government to provide a reasonable explanation for reviewing history textbooks and reform its review mechanism.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.