Educators have been confused by a threat from authorities to disqualify teachers who promote Hong Kong independence, and have questioned the legal standing behind the stern warning.
The Education Bureau has not responded to requests for clarification on their warning, while a teachers’ union asked the government to explain whether educators would lose their jobs if they discuss the pros and cons of independence with students.
While there is no law banning discussion of independence, a section in Hong Kong law states the chief executive may ban opinions with a “clearly biased political nature” in schools.
A further two sections also state the permanent secretary can refuse or cancel teachers’ registrations if they jeopardise order in schools.
Human rights lawyer Chong Yiu-kwong said the clauses could enable leaders to control discussions on independence in schools but the regulations should be in line with the laws.
“If objective discussions on both the pros and cons of independence are not allowed, it will be very likely a breach of freedom of expression,” Chong said.
A bureau spokesman criticised the union yesterday for confusing “advocating independence” with “discussing independence”. He said any pro-independence proposals should not appear in schools.
Chong criticised the government for “creating fear out of nothing”, saying very few teachers found independence a topic of discussion until the warning put the issue in the spotlight.