National education a must for Hongkongers, says former official

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 9:31pm

It is only natural for Hong Kong schools to teach a course on national education, a former top mainland official said on Thursday.

“Every national must receive national education … Hongkongers have a responsibility to contribute to the country,” said Chen Zuoer, the former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, who is visiting the city.

Speaking at an event held by the Y. Elites Association, he advised Hongkongers to work together to settle the dispute over national education and to make the course a success.

Commenting on recent protests against parallel goods traders in Sheung Shui, Chen said he was saddened that some Hongkongers had held up British flags at the scene.

“If you are discontented with the central government, you can freely voice your opinions,” said Chen. “We can discuss it. Can holding the British flag help [solve the conflicts]?”

But he acknowledged that the parallel goods trade was a problem that arose from the individual travel scheme, and it should be rectified. Beijing introduced the scheme in 2003.

Some communities in North District have seen protests against parallel traders, who are accused of driving up prices of daily necessities by buying goods in bulk for resale across the border.

On Thursday afternoon, Chen will appear at a launching ceremony for his book Negotiations on The Handover of Sovereignty of Hong Kong – A Witness Recount.

From 1994 to 1997, he was a member of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group responsible for discussing Hong Kong’s handover arrangements. In his book, Chen details heated exchanges between Beijing and London about the city’s future.