Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had to wait a few minutes to deliver his third policy address this morning in the Legislative Council chamber because of a protest by pan-democratic lawmakers. But when he spoke, he made the government’s position clear: if Hong Kong can’t have an election for chief executive in 2017 under Beijing’s rules, there won’t be one at all.
At 11am, when Leung was supposed to start his speech, pan-democrats launched a yellow umbrella protest, holding up two banners saying “C.Y. Leung, step down” and “We want true universal suffrage”.
After two lawmakers were carried out, Leung began his address, titled “Uphold the rule of law; seize the opportunities; make the right choices”. In it, he urged the public to be on the alert over any groups advocating ideas of self-determination.
He also referred to the cover story in last February’s edition of Undergrad, the Hong Kong University Students’ Union magazine. The story was titled “Hong Kong people deciding their own fate”.
“Undergrad and other students, including student leaders of the Occupy movement, have misstated some facts,” Leung said. He added that the government has asked political figures with close ties to the leaders of the student movement to “advise them against putting forward such fallacies”.
On education, subsidies will be given to primary and secondary students to go on at least one exchange trip to the mainland, Leung said.
In response, Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong commented on his Facebook page: “Why don’t you allow us students across the border first? How can we ‘exchange’ when we are denied access?”
“I don’t think the [opportunities for] exchange trips should be limited to the mainland, but it would be a good chance to broaden students’ horizons,” said Professor Stephen Chu of the University of Hong Kong, an expert on Hong Kong culture.
Also, the Education Bureau will renew the curriculum of Chinese history to reinforce students’ knowledge about China.
Chu agrees the curriculum needs to be reviewed, but the question is how: “I think some Hong Kong students know little about Chinese history … or even the history of our city.” He added it would be meaningless if controversial issues are cut away or the new curriculum presents only one side of a story.
In addition, a pilot scheme to provide financial and professional support for local public sector schools and Direct Subsidy Scheme schools will be launched in a bid to double the number of pairings between primary and secondary sister schools in Hong Kong and on the mainland to about 600 within three years starting from this autumn.
Leung closed his speech with a message aimed at the Occupy protesters: “The rule of law is the cornerstone of our prosperity and stability ... There is no excuse for anyone to break the law.”