Hong Kong's last governor, Chris Patten, has warned that local students advocating independence could become "more extreme" if leaders fail to engage in a dialogue with them.
His comments come after independence banners and posters sprung up at public university campuses at the start of the month. Patten said on Tuesday that the matter should be left to the heads of universities to handle, and everybody has to "cool down" over the matter.
During a speech at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, he also said there's a limit as to how far a person can exercise his or her freedom of speech, in an indirect reference to recent comments made by lawmaker and lawyer Junius Ho.
"In Britain, you can't say whatever you want about anybody. You can't engage in hate speech. You couldn't, for example, say that somebody should be killed because of their political views," Patten said.
He reiterated that he doesn't support Hong Kong independence, and he doesn't think advocates are doing their cause any good at the moment.
Patten, who's now the chancellor of Oxford University, also recalled that Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen in a recent speech at the university had said that "Hong Kong is the international hub for the rule of law".
Patten said he isn't sure the jailing of three Occupy Movement student leaders last month is the best example of that.
Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were sent to prison for six to eight months after the Department of Justice successfully won a sentence review case, after the trio had finished serving their original non-custodial punishments.
Patten said Yuen would be "a little naive" if he didn't realise the message the "political decision" to apply for the review would send to the international community.