Executive Councillor Ronny Tong said on Saturday that the city’s laws should be amended to better address calls for independence.
In recent weeks, banners promoting Hong Kong independence have been hung up at several local universities – drawing a sharp rebuke from university heads, who issued a joint statement on Friday condemning “recent abuses” of the freedom of expression. The ten university heads said they do not support Hong Kong independence as it contravenes the Basic Law.
And earlier on Friday, the vice-chancellor of Chinese University, Joseph Sung, said university officials would tear down independence banners and posters on campus if the student union didn’t do so from areas they manage.
Tong said people who manage or own public places should be given the authority to remove items that promote such ideology, or they can choose to give law-enforcement the power to do so.
But Tong also said changes should be made to the Crimes Ordinance's articles relating to seditious intentions, so that only people who use illegal or violent means to promote independence would be punished.
He said the current law is a “little bit harsh” and said if people are simply hanging up banners or handing out leaflets about independence, without advocating for it through violence or by illegal means, then the offence of sedition shouldn’t apply.
“However, it doesn’t mean the law should have no control over the spreading of political beliefs which threaten national security,” Tong added.
Last updated: 2017-09-16 HKT 17:20