Posters issue about respect, says Lam

Local | Sum Lok-kei 13 Sep 2017

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said posting banners supporting independence or mocking the grieving undersecretary for education on university campuses is not about freedom of speech.

"This is a question of whether we are respecting 'one country, two systems,' and whether we are concerned about the development of Hong Kong, and also whether we are a compassionate society showing respect especially for people who are caught in a very difficult position," she said before the weekly Executive Council meeting yesterday.

A war of ideals continues at local campuses over the posting of pro- independence posters or banners mocking Undersecretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin over the suicide of her eldest son.

Lam refused to say whether those calling for a "manhunt" of those who posted such banners or posters should be encouraged, only that the government will let university administrations handle the issues.

A black banner imprinted with the words "Hong Kong Independence" remains at the Culture Square of Chinese University of Hong Kong's main campus, with a booth set up under it by the student union to stop attempts at tearing it down.

CUHK New Asia College Board of Trustees vice chairman Chan Chi-sun yesterday said the discussion of independence is acceptable on campus, but promotion of such ideas at universities might have a "great impact" on Hong Kong and China.

Chan said discussion of independence should be allowed, so long as it is done in an academic and lawful manner. He said more clarification is needed on whether the discussion of separatist ideas is legal in Hong Kong and urged students to be cautious and stay rational.

"Whatever we do or say, we hope it is done within the boundaries of the law. It is okay to study [Hong Kong independence] but should we promote it?" Chan said on a radio program.

He called for the university's administration to discuss with students an "appropriate" way to handle the paraphernalia.

New Asia College's students' union said the issue was not whether calls for independence should be supported, but whether its discussion should be permitted on campus.

While it does not advocate independence, the union told the same program that peaceful acts such as putting up banners and posters should be allowed.

It also said it will consider apologizing for "mistyping" college head Henry Wong Nai-ching's name and implying the professor was a communist appeaser.

Chan said the college head's name should be well-known among students.

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