A flurry of celebrations and debates over jailed Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo are being held in Hong Kong in the run-up to his award ceremony next month. This contrasts sharply with the mainland, where the long-time dissident scholar remains a taboo subject. Mainland authorities have pulled out the all stops to bar the news about Liu from spreading. But in Hong Kong, non-governmental organisations and political parties are making vocal calls for his release. Different views over whether Liu merits the prestigious award have also been voiced. The Legislative Council will debate tomorrow a motion calling for Liu's release. The Civic Party will hold a candlelight vigil today in support of the motion. China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, the Democratic Party and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China will hold joint rallies to support Liu ahead of the award ceremony in Norway. Salil Shetty, the secretary general of Amnesty International, yesterday hailed Hong Kong for its freedom and said the city could play a crucial part in helping the mainland reform and develop. 'Hong Kong is a particularly open part of the Chinese world. The support [Liu] has received here has helped to illustrate his cause and his beliefs,' said Shetty, who was in Hong Kong to attend the Asia Pacific Amnesty International Forum. Liu was jailed for 11 years in December last year for drafting a manifesto calling for sweeping democratic reforms, rule of law and basic rights. The activist has been a thorn in the side of the authorities since helping to lead student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Ever since his imprisonment, activists in Hong Kong have taken to the streets to highlight his plight, while signature and postcard campaigns as well as discussion forums were held to demand his freedom. Two small local groups - Concern China Centre and Southern Democratic Alliance - have launched an on-line campaign to encourage people from different countries to write to the central government to ask for Liu's release. Controversial views, including those opposing the award of the prize to Liu, are also freely aired in newspapers and websites in Hong Kong. Some questioned whether Liu deserved the honour and said his political views were biased and naive. Shetty said he was aware of the debates in Hong Kong but said this kind of open and free discussion was good for the city and the country. 'I know there's a lot of discussion about whether [Liu] winning the Nobel Prize is a good thing or a bad thing - whether it is actually going to make things worse for the human rights defenders on the mainland,' he said. 'But in our assessment ... Liu is a human rights defender in China, so in some ways we feel that it's shining a light on this issue and encourages other human rights defenders as the whole world is watching.' Shetty said Amnesty 'still had some concerns' that the liberties Hong Kong enjoyed might be eroded in future. But he said 'the positives outweighed the negatives' and that the mainland could learn a few lessons from the city. Democratic Party legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said Beijing's hostile reaction to Liu's award meant people in Hong Kong 'have a duty and responsibility to ensure that universal human rights are respected everywhere, including China'. Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats, which organised a convoy of cars driving around Hong Kong with placards and pictures of Liu on Sunday, said although the city was still relatively free, it did not enjoy many of the basic political rights advocated by Liu. He called on more people to be concerned about Liu's plight.