Monitor pro-independence activism and call police if students are harassed, Hong Kong schools told
The city’s education minister Kevin Yeung said this as he reiterated a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for independence advocacy on or around campuses
Schools should stay observant and call the police if groups handing out separatism-themed fliers harass their students, Hong Kong’s education minister said on Wednesday, as he reiterated a “zero tolerance” policy towards independence advocacy on or around campuses.
“No proposition or activity of Hong Kong independence should be allowed on campus,” Education Bureau Chief Kevin Yeung Yun-hung warned, adding that this stance also applied to those who distributed separatism-themed materials around campuses.
“We have always required the education sector to take precautions against the independence activists’ attempts at infiltration and to make sure that students can study in a peaceful and safe environment free of interference,” Yeung said at the weekly Legislative Council meeting.
In response to a question from pro-establishment lawmaker Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, Yeung said that schools should ensure they had an adequate number of staff monitoring the situation around their premises.
If distribution of pro-independence material took place in public housing estates or private residential complexes, schools should report the matter to real estate managers there.
And if students were harassed, schools could seek help from the education authority and the police, Yeung added.
Cheung had raised concerns over the “signs of resurgence” of separatist promotion on campuses, three weeks after student activists revived a controversial drive to lobby for Hong Kong’s independence from China, after last year’s campaign fizzled out.
The campaign organisers said activists handed out fliers and stickers advocating separatism at 10 secondary schools before lessons began, while materials such as banners were put up at two tertiary institutions.
Pupils from several schools also manned street booths where they handed out materials to passers-by.
Police officers monitored the activities, with a spokesman saying that the force would deal with any act that might constitute a criminal offence under the law.
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At some schools, management told students that their rules prohibited the promotion of political messages on campus, though educators the Post spoke to said it was difficult to determine whether school entrances were considered part of campuses or not.
Yeung on Wednesday said that in schools, teachers could only tell students that separating the special administrative region from China was unrealistic legally, practically and historically.
While they should patiently educate students, he said, they should notify parents if their children were found to be spreading separatist ideas.
Pro-establishment legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fung asked if the bureau required schools to teach students about the relationship between China’s constitution and the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
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Yeung replied that this topic was essential when teaching about Hong Kong-China relations.
To mark Constitution Day on the mainland on Monday, the head of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong Wang Zhimin wrote an article that said China’s Constitution was extremely relevant to the city, as the authority of the Basic Law was drawn from it.