The Hong Kong government has sought since 2007 to introduce "national education" courses into primary and secondary school curriculum, aimed at strengthening students' "national identity awareness" and nurturing patriotism towards China. The programme has met with increasing public opposition in recent years, with many in Hong Kong seeing it as a brainwashing attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to suppress dissent.
Threat to revive Admiralty protests if national education is not scrapped
Anti-national education group also threatens to demand resignation of education secretary
Protesters against the implementation of national education have warned they will revive the massive demonstration at Admiralty and call for the education chief to step down if the government does not withdraw the subject.
The warning from the Civil Alliance Against National Education came yesterday, as a government-appointed committee, chaired by Anna Wu Hung-yuk, will hold a meeting today on its review of the subject and teaching material. The government is expected to decide on the fate of the subject after the meeting.
In an open letter to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday, the alliance said opponents of the subject would return to the government headquarters in Admiralty if their voices were not heard. Tens of thousands of protesters camped out on the open space of the headquarters for 10 days last month, with some even going on hunger strike and university students boycotting classes. This action resulted in the government's climbdown on the issue, giving public schools the option of implementing the subject, rather than making the classes compulsory.
Eva Chan Sik-chee, co-founder of the Parents Concern Group on National Education, said at a press conference yesterday that apart from reviving the rally, the alliance would also ask Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim to resign. The group will ask Ng to step down on the same day, Wednesday, that Ip Kin-yuen, the lawmaker representing the education sector, is expected to put forward a motion on the issue to the Legislative Council.
"We urge the chief executive to withdraw the discipline with courage. It will win him the most applause from the public in his 100 days in office," said Chan.
The new administration has been making compromises in the past few weeks. First the three-year deadline for mandatory implementation was scrapped and then panel chairwoman Wu suggested that the guidelines for the subject's introduction be dumped.
Meanwhile, the Home Affairs Bureau is under pressure to explain why 10 students were hauled away by police just minutes before the start of the flag-raising ceremony on National Day.
A home affairs senior liaison officer said after the incident that anyone disturbing the ceremony would be asked to leave. Lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan and the convenor of student group Scholarism, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, said in a public forum yesterday that they could not find the "rule" in any government document and questioned if the removal had a legal basis.