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Hong Kong Basic Law

Basic Law live broadcast for schools? Hong Kong pupils may not know enough to benefit, Beijing adviser says

Think tank vice-president Lau Siu-kai says material could be made more accessible, however, with help from teachers and subtitles

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 12:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 8:35pm

A leading Beijing adviser on Hong Kong affairs admitted on Thursday that plans to conduct a live broadcast of a Basic Law seminar at secondary schools next month might not achieve their intended purpose.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a Beijing-associated think tank, feared the lack of knowledge about the city’s mini-constitution among pupils meant they might not fully understand the speech by Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei.

Li has been invited to give a 50-minute speech at the Basic Law seminar, to be held on November 16 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

Lau was speaking on a radio interview on Thursday morning. Asked about plans by the Education Bureau to invite schools to broadcast the session, Lau said it was up to each school to decide whether to do so.

“The target audience of [Li Fei’s] speech was not originally intended to be secondary school pupils, but rather those with ample knowledge of the Basic Law,” he said.

However, he said he believed teachers could play a part by explaining Li’s speech, while subtitles could be added to help pupils overcome the language barrier, as the speech would be in Mandarin.

“At the very least, [the broadcast] can give the pupils a fresh experience by letting them observe the style and use of words by a mainland official.”

The Education Bureau’s move has drawn accusations of patriotic brainwashing, with education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen saying some school organisations complained they felt they were being pressured and were worried about the consequences if they did not take part.

But the bureau said participation was voluntary, and the seminar did not exclusively target schools – lawmakers and business representatives were also invited.

The Education Bureau spokesman added it planned to provide the necessary technical support for the live broadcast in schools, hence the reply slip was intended to inform the bureau about the number of schools that might require aid.

Brainwashing fears stoked as Hong Kong schools encouraged to broadcast Beijing official’s Basic Law speech live

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also refuted accusations that the government was forcing all pupils to watch the broadcast, saying the bureau was responsible for strengthening Basic Law instruction.

The news came after China’s education minister, Chen Baosheng, reminded the Hong Kong government of its duty to implement national education and called for a stronger sense of national identity among the city’s teachers.