TEXTBOOK publishers are to ask the Education Department to defer the introduction of a new subject until 1997 because of fears the content might infringe the Basic Law. General studies, which will merge the present subjects of social studies, hygiene and science, is scheduled to be introduced by September 1996 to all primary students. But publishers yesterday said they were caught in a difficult position in writing a section on Sino-Hong Kong relations which would change in 1997. Convenor of the concern group on educational publishing, Rodney Chui Fong-ching, was worried whether writing about Sino-Hong Kong relations based on the pre-1997 situation would infringe the Basic Law by failing to enshrine the mainland's sovereign power after 1997. The publishers said that to re-write the content one year after the introduction of the subject would be a waste of resources. Mr Chui said another problem was that only 34 out of 960 lessons in the subject in the six primary years were on China and the proportion was less than that covered by social studies at present. Some Preliminary Working Committee members have criticised the coverage of China in the subject as too limited to enshrine the spirit of nationalism. Mr Chui will meet the department to ask for a deferral or stage-by-stage introduction of the subject. If that was rejected, he said he would ask for flexibility to allow the part on Sino-Hong Kong relations to be written from a post-1997 point of view. The publishers would also seek allowance for wider coverage of China. The department has insisted on the introduction of the subject by 1996 and said there was an annual review of each subject to oversee any necessary changes.