Hong Kong localism and independence

Exco member Fanny Law says Hong Kong independence ‘too complicated’ to discuss in school

Political heavyweight says secondary school students could be misled without understanding context such as First Opium War and drafting process of the Basic Law

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 2:44pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 3:47pm

Hong Kong independence is ‘too complicated’ to discuss in school, said executive councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, joining the ongoing discussion of whether pro-independence talk has any place on the city’s campuses.

Speaking on an RTHK radio programme on Monday morning, Law said pro-independence political groups should be banned from schools, and their representatives should not become legitimate candidates for the leadership of student unions.

The Executive Council heavyweight said the historical roots behind the topic were “too complicated”, and that secondary school students could be misled without a thorough understanding of context, such as the First Opium War and the drafting process of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

“[Hong Kong independence] is a very complicated topic. It is not suitable to be discussed at the secondary school level,” Law said.

She added that it was not necessary for teachers to single out Hong Kong independence and related topics in class discussions. Instead, Law said, relevant issues should be discussed under the framework of the Basic Law, which states Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China.

“It is understandable that young people get frustrated about the current situation in Hong Kong, but independence can not solve all problems, such as the polarisation of rich and poor.”

To help students better understand Hong Kong’s position in the Basic Law, she suggested different teaching methods be adopted according to the level of the students.

For primary school students, for example, Law said: “It is like ‘the law forbids people from killing’. Just remember it.”

For secondary schools, she advised teachers to trace the historical roots of the First Opium War and explain to students how Britain took Hong Kong as a colony.

The drafting process of the Basic Law and the negotiations surrounding the Sino-British Joint Declaration could be added to the curriculum for more senior students in high school and university.

Law also said the phrase “Hong Kong independence” had been abused as it had become a hot topic in society.

“Some students just don’t want Hong Kong’s core values to be affected [by mainland interference],” Law said, which she considered to be normal.

“Teachers should talk to those students to find out why they hold pro-independence ideas,” Law said. “Talk to their parents if necessary.”