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Legislative Council Business

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LCQ4: Promotion of Basic Law

Following is a question by the Hon Ambrose Lau and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (February 25):

Over the past two years, almost 100 promotional activities on the Basic Law were organised or sponsored by government departments, non-governmental organisations and district bodies. However, according to the survey findings published by the Census and Statistics Department in December last year on the topic of "Understanding of the Basic Law", only 48.3% of Hong Kong people aged 15 and above said that they had some or good knowledge of the Basic Law, while as many as 40.4% of students studying at primary four and above claimed that they did not have any idea of the contents of the Basic Law. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the number of the above promotional activities which were organised by government departments;

(b) the means by which the authorities promoted the Basic Law over the past two years and the total expenditure involved; and

(c) the plans the authorities have for promoting understanding of the Basic Law among the public?


Madam President,

(a) Amongst the some 100 activities organised/sponsored by government, non-governmental bodies and district organisations to promote the Basic Law, about 40 were organised by the Government itself and over 50 were co-organised or sponsored by various government departments.

(b) To further promote the Basic Law and to enhance the public awareness of the "One Country, Two Systems" concept after the reunification, the Government established in 1988 the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee, with the Chief Secretary for Administration as the Chairman. The Committee provides the necessary steer on the overall programme and strategy for promoting the Basic Law and facilitates the coordination and co-operation between governmental and non-governmental bodies in their promotion efforts. The four working groups set up under the Steering Committee organised a wide range of activities to promote the Basic Law among four target groups, namely, the local community, teachers and students, civil servants and the overseas community. Such activities include various publicity programmes, production of teaching materials, promotional materials and television specials, seminars, experience-sharing sessions and homepages.

Besides, the Government has also set up in the Hong Kong Central Library the Basic Law Reference Collection, which comprises more than 4,600 items. Over 31,000 people made use of the Reference Collection in 2003.

The Government has also set up the Basic Law Homepage, which contains the full text of the Basic law, as well as related information and promotional materials. In 2003, the total number of page views of the Homepage amounted to 2.01 million.

Over the past years, the Government produced more than 70 items of promotional materials, teaching materials and publications on the Basic Law, including 15 television Announcements of Public Interest (TV API) produced by the Constitutional Affairs Bureau on provisions of the Basic Law. These APIs have been telecast for over 10,000 times in the past two years.

In his question, Mr Lau refers specifically to the understanding of the Basic Law by students. To promote a better understanding of the Basic Law amongst young people, the Government has already introduced a number of Basic Law elements into the curriculum for primary and secondary students. At present, Basic Law elements feature in various primary and secondary school subjects (such as General Studies, Civic Education, Social Studies, Liberal Studies, Economic and Public Affairs). These elements include the background to the drafting of the Basic Law, the general principles of the Basic Law, the importance of the Basic Law to Hong Kong, the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR, as well as the rights and obligations of HKSAR residents. On top of the formal curriculum, a variety of promotional activities are organised. Basic Law elements are also incorporated into teacher training programmes and teaching materials, e.g. the Knowing the Basic Law resource teaching kit prepared by the Curriculum Development Institute, and the ten-hour intensive course in Basic Law education for both primary and secondary teachers. On the university front, Basic Law promotional activities for tertiary students are organised by tertiary institutions and community organisations through the Basic Law Promotion Funding Scheme.

For the years 2002/03 and 2003/04, a provision of $8,920,000 has been made for Basic Law promotional activities. The total allocation set aside for this purpose since 1998 amounts to $28,500,000.

(c) The Government is committed to promoting the Basic Law, and has targetted its efforts at enhancing people's interest in and understanding of the Basic Law. Achievements have been made. Results of public opinion surveys conducted in 2000 and 2002 reveal that the percentage of respondents among the general public who claimed that they had heard of the Basic Law has increased from 80% in 2000 to 90% in 2002. Those who perceived that they had some or a good knowledge of the Basic Law has nearly doubled from 25% to 48%. For students, those who considered that they had some or a good knowledge of the Basic Law has increased from 32% in 2000 to 57% to 2002. These show that public awareness of the Basic Law has been on the increase.

The Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee at its meeting this February deliberated on the future promotion strategy. Building on the increasing public awareness of the Basic Law, the Committee will strengthen co-operation with community organisations to further enhance public awareness of the Basic Law, and to ensure that members of the public will gain comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the Basic Law as well as the concept of "One Country, Two Systems". The SAR Government will review the allocation of resources required in the coming year for the promotion of the Basic Law with a view to supporting the new strategies and promotion programmes devised by the Committee.

Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2004