A pro-democracy lawyers' group has called on the SAR government to retract a recent statement condemning legal scholar Benny Tai for comments he made at a forum in Taiwan about the hypothetical possibility of Hong Kong one day becoming independent.
Tai, who is a professor at the University of Hong Kong, said the idea of independence or a federal government system could be something Chinese people would want to consider should China eventually become a democratic country.
The SAR government said last week that it was "shocked by the remarks made by a university teaching staff member that Hong Kong could consider becoming an independent state, and strongly condemns such remarks."
Pro-Beijing groups also expressed outrage over Tai's comments. But the Progressive Lawyers Group said on Tuesday that claims the Occupy founder was advocating independence are "groundless" and his words have been interpreted incorrectly.
The group said that authorities have a duty to uphold freedom of speech and academic freedom, which are expressly protected under the Basic Law.
It called on the government to retract its remarks and issue a public apology to Tai.
But on an RTHK radio programme, DAB chairwoman Starry Lee warned that Tai's comments must not be taken lightly being as they have a large effect on society and young people in particular.
Lee said the professor isn't just any ordinary person, but was the "brains" behind major social movements such as the 2014 Occupy campaign.
Lee urged the University of Hong Kong to look into whether Tai has violated any regulations with his behaviour and to take appropriate action against him.