Education Secretary Kevin Yeung said on Monday that it was inappropriate for speeches at university opening ceremonies to be used to promote the idea of Hong Kong independence, with student leaders repeatedly bringing up the controversial suggestion at the start of the academic year.
Independence was a recurring theme of speeches at the Chinese University on Monday, even as Yeung attacked similar comments made in an opening speech last week at the Education University.
The minister said Hong Kong independence is legally, practically and historically unviable. He added that it is also unnecessary and inappropriate to promote or discuss the idea in schools.
After CUHK student leaders also touched on Hong Kong independence during their opening ceremony speeches, the institution's vice-chancellor, Rocky Tuan, said students enjoy freedom of expression as long as they put forward their views in a peaceful and rational manner.
“Freedom of expression is the cornerstone, the core value of the university,” said Tuan.
“Therefore, we will always allow discussion when it’s done in a rational and peaceful, and mutually respectful way, and also a responsible manner. Again, in any of these topics, we encourage the students to communicate with us, and we will also actively reach out to them for active communication,” he said.
But the president of CUHK’s students union, Au Cheuk-hei, complained that the vice-chancellor wasn’t sincere about communicating with them, saying he had only met the union once so far, for talks lasting 45 minutes.
Au quoted Tuan as saying during that meeting that the university campus is not a place for political wrangling.
Last year, banners advocating independence went up at universities, while pro-independence leaflets were distributed to children outside some of the city's schools.
Education chief blasts Hong Kong independence talk
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