Following is a question by Dr the Hon Lam Tai-fai and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (April 22):
Some members of the community have pointed out that since the reunification of Hong Kong, the Central People's Government (CPG) has all along adhered to the principles of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong", etc. and acted in accordance with the Basic law. However, in recent years, some radicals in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) have been advocating the idea of Hong Kong independence. These radicals have also misunderstood and blatantly disregarded the Basic Law and the principle of "one country, two systems", as well as attempted secession of the country and endangered national security. Such members of the community have suggested that as this year marks the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law, the SAR Government should step up its efforts to promote the Basic Law in order to enhance the understanding of the Basic Law among the general public, particularly the youth. In connection with the implementation and promotion of the Basic Law, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has assessed if CPG is satisfied with the implementation of the Basic Law in SAR; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) given that Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that SAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, etc., how the SAR Government will enact laws to implement this provision, and of the legislative timetable; if no timetable is available, of the reasons for that;
(3) whether it has assessed if any foreign forces have attempted to sabotage the implementation of the Basic Law since the reunification; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) whether it has assessed and reviewed, since the implementation of the Basic Law, the effectiveness of the efforts made by the SAR Government in promoting the Basic Law; if it has, of the indicators for determining the effectiveness, as well as the successes and the failures of such efforts; whether any principal official under the accountability system (accountability officials) should be held responsible for the failures; if not, of the reasons for that;
(5) how the authorities will, in the next two years, enhance the effectiveness of the work to promote the Basic Law and what methods they will use to step up the promotional efforts; of the government departments, organisations or officials dedicated to undertaking such tasks;
(6) whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the work of the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee (BLPSC) in the past three years; of the conditions for appointment as BLPSC members; whether the authorities have provided relevant training for and conducted assessments of BLPSC members; whether it has studied if BLPSC needs to be restructured;
(7) of the details of the estimates of expenditure and the expenditure items for the promotion of the Basic Law and the number of copies of the Basic Law which will be printed and distributed to the public in each of the next five years;
(8) according to the Government's target, how many people in Hong Kong should be familiarised with the content of the Basic Law; of the anticipated time for achieving such target;
(9) whether it has assessed the impact of shelving the Curriculum Guide of the Moral and National Education subject in October 2012 on the promotion of the Basic Law; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(10) whether it has assessed which parts or provisions of the Basic Law that members of the public have relatively diverse understanding which has caused difficulties in the promotion of the Basic Law; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(11) of the platforms which the authorities provided in the past, is providing at present and will provide in the future for university, secondary and primary students at various levels to learn the Basic Law so as to achieve popularisation of the Basic Law education;
(12) whether it will review the lesson time and the curriculum guides for subjects such as General Studies for primary education, Life and Society for junior secondary education, Liberal Studies for senior secondary education, etc. as well as enhance the Basic Law related content of such subjects; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(13) whether it will consider including the Basic Law in the scope of examination for the subject Liberal Studies of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(14) whether it has studied how primary and secondary school teachers at various levels can learn the Basic Law effectively and properly; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(15) given that a member of Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress have recently proposed that attendance of courses on national studies courses held on the Mainland should be made an entry requirement for prospective teachers, whether the authorities will adopt such a proposal; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(16) how the Government currently promotes the Basic Law among overseas Hong Kong people and new arrivals from the Mainland and encourage them to learn the Basic Law; whether there is any dedicated government department responsible for such work; whether the authorities organised talks or activities for such persons in the past three years for promoting the Basic Law; if they did, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(17) how the Government promotes the Basic Law among the elderly and retirees at present;
(18) given that members from the pan-democratic camp are often alleged by government officials to have misunderstood certain provisions of the Basic Law, how the Government will facilitate such persons to gain a proper understanding of the relevant provisions;
(19) whether it will establish a mechanism to assess or evaluate the accountability officials' understanding of the Basic Law and provide systematic training in this respect; and
(20) whether it will establish a mechanism to provide Basic Law related training for District Council members, Legislative Council Members and Executive Council Members; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
In consultation with the Education Bureau (EDB) and the Security Bureau, our consolidated reply to the questions raised by Dr the Hon Lam is as follows:
The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (the Basic Law) is the constitutional document for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), enshrining in legal form the basic policies of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy and prescribing the systems practised in the HKSAR.
The HKSAR Government (HKSARG) established the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee (BLPSC) in January 1998. Chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration and comprised both official and non-official members, the BLPSC provides the steer on the overall programme and strategy for promoting the Basic Law, and coordinates the efforts of Government departments and various sectors in the community in taking forward Basic Law promotion activities. Similar to other advisory bodies, the HKSARG appoints candidates as non-official members to the BLPSC on the basis of the merit of the individuals concerned, taking into account their ability, expertise, experience, integrity and commitment to public service.
Five working groups have been set up under the BLPSC, namely Working Group (WG) on Local Community; WG on Teachers and Students; WG on Civil Servants; WG on Industrial, Commercial and Professional Sectors; and WG on Overseas Community. These working groups are assisted by, respectively, the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), the EDB, the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), the Trade and Industry Department (TID) and the Information Services Department (ISD) to organise activities to promote the Basic Law to the respective sectors. Over the past three years, the BLPSC and its working groups have organised more than 70 promotion activities. The HKSARG will evaluate the effectiveness of various promotion activities through different means, such as activity reports, number of visits to the Internet websites, number of downloads of the smart-phone applications, participation rates at events, and public feedback, etc. Moreover, the HKSARG also conducts surveys on a regular basis to evaluate public understanding of the Basic Law as well as the effectiveness of various publicity and promotion activities.
The year 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law. Apart from continuing to foster public understanding of the main content of the Basic Law by making use of familiar topics from daily lives, the HKSARG will also organise more in-depth and diverse large-scale activities, including seminars and thematic exhibitions, so that the public can have an in-depth understanding of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law. Individual bureaux/departments will also organise activities catered for their target groups. For example, the EDB will produce Basic Law visual learning packages for upper primary and junior secondary students and organise territory-wide inter-school quiz competitions; the CSB will organise thematic talks on the Basic Law; the TID will organise thematic seminars and souvenir design competition on the Basic Law; and the ISD will produce Basic Law promotion video. The Community Participation Scheme 2015-16 and the Co-operation Scheme with District Councils 2015-16 organised by the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education under the HAB have also encouraged community organisations to stage activities at the district level for the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law. The EDB also subsidises educational groups and tertiary institutions to carry out activities for the promotion of the Basic Law through the Quality Education Fund and the Basic Law Promotion Funding Scheme for Tertiary Institutions.
As for teaching the Basic Law in schools and providing training for teachers, the EDB has always attached great importance to the promotion of the Basic Law and actively takes forward Basic Law education. Related learning elements of the Basic Law have long been incorporated into the curricula of primary and secondary schools. These include, for example, General Studies at the primary level, Life and Society at the junior secondary level and Liberal Studies at the senior secondary level. The "Revised Moral and Civic Education Curriculum Framework" promulgated in 2008 has strengthened the related content on the Basic Law. Furthermore, schools could promote Basic Law education with reference to their own contexts and needs for curriculum development, through the relevant curricula and learning activities. The importance of Basic Law education in the school curriculum has not been varied though the "Moral and National Education Curriculum Guide" was shelved in 2012.
The EDB continues to produce teaching and learning resources and question banks as well as organise learning activities to promote Basic Law education. Based on the recommendations in the 2010-11 Policy Address, learning packages have been produced since November 2010 to foster students' understanding of the Basic Law. The packages have been distributed to schools in phases from January 2012 to January 2013. At the same time, online resources have been provided to schools in support of Basic Law learning.
For primary schools, the "Community and Citizenship" strand of the General Studies curriculum includes key learning points/core learning elements on the Basic Law. The EDB would continuously evaluate and update the contents of the "General Studies for Primary Schools Curriculum Guide" to keep track with the societal development. The to-be devised "General Studies for Primary Schools Curriculum Guide 2016" will further enhance Basic Law education by adding in its drafting history and development and reinforcing the learning of Articles in Chapters I, II and IV of the Basic Law. Good exemplars are collected from schools for sharing.
Meanwhile, the EDB has also developed in 2012 "Let's Learn the Basic Law - Basic Law Learning Package (Senior Primary) (bilingual version)" and the Basic Law Assessment Bank to provide support to primary school teachers on relevant teaching and assessment and, to increase students' knowledge on the background, Articles and important concepts of the Basic Law. The Learning Package (Bilingual version in DVD format) was distributed to all primary schools, including the schools operated by the English Schools Foundation. In addition, the EDB also established an on-line assessment bank which was uploaded onto the learning and teaching resources websites of the EDB for schools' reference and use. Teachers can encourage students to do online self-assessment to consolidate the learning of Basic Law.
As for secondary schools, the EDB will distribute the teacher version of the "Understanding the Law, Access to Justice - Basic Law Learning Package (Junior Secondary)" (Reprinted with minor amendments) to all secondary schools. To tie in with the development of e-learning, the EDB will complete the e-book version of the package for all junior secondary students by June 2015.
To facilitate teachers in their assessment of students' understanding of the Basic Law, two assessment banks have been provided for secondary and primary school teachers respectively by June 2012. Students can assess their own understanding of the Basic Law online through responding to questions or engaging in online games from December 2012. The EDB will continue to design various types of examination questions for schools' reference and use.
The EDB has always taken heed of views and suggestions through various channels such as by conducting relevant discussions with the Curriculum Development Council and maintaining close communication with sponsoring bodies and schools, and enriched the contents about the Basic Law in secondary and primary school curricula according to practical needs. The "Basic Education Curriculum Guide - To Sustain, Deepen and Focus on Learning to Learn (Primary 1-6) (2014)" which has been uploaded to the EDB's website, gives advice to schools on utilising existing learning and teaching resources to enhance Basic Law education. To further enrich the elements of Basic Law education, the EDB will also consider enhancing education on the Basic Law in the relevant curriculum guides, including recommending curriculum time, learning and teaching strategies, resources for assessment and good practices.
The Basic Law is related to the theme of "Rule of law and socio-political participation" in Module 2 "Hong Kong Today" of the curriculum of senior secondary Liberal Studies. The Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination of Liberal Studies is set according to the "Liberal Studies Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6)". Questions are set in accordance with the curriculum aims, curriculum contents, design of issues, explanatory notes and assessment objectives, so as to assess candidates' comprehension of the issues, application of relevant knowledge and concepts as well as use of different thinking skills and positive values.
The EDB continues to organise professional development programmes on the Basic Law for secondary and primary school teachers in order to enhance teachers' understanding of the concepts and essence of the Basic Law. These courses cover contents such as curriculum planning, learning and teaching, use of learning and teaching resources, and knowledge enrichment, and aim to facilitate the implementation of Basic Law education in schools and enhance curriculum leadership and teaching effectiveness.
Teacher training institutions (TEIs) will consider the needs of the community, students and the teaching profession in designing initial teacher education programmes. The EDB will have professional exchanges with TEIs from time to time on matters relating to professional development and training of teachers so that the planning of programmes by TEIs could meet the policy development needs.
It is necessary for Hong Kong students to understand their country. Currently, through participating in various kinds of activities and exchanges, students have many opportunities to learn more about their country and its development. The EDB always respects academic freedom since that TEIs themselves will consider the needs of the community, students and the teaching profession in designing initial teacher education programmes.
In recent years, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) has spent/set aside about $16 million annually for organising various promotion activities under the following strategies to enhance public awareness and understanding of the Basic Law:
(i) using electronic media targeted at the general public, such as Announcements in the Public Interest on television and radio, radio quiz programmes, Internet and smart-phone applications;
(ii) enhancing public awareness and understanding of the Basic Law through promotion activities at the district level, such as roving exhibitions and mobile resource centre; and
(iii) strengthening co-operation with community organisations in staging various promotion activities, such as seminars, talks and debate competitions, in order to reach a wider audience through the extensive community networks.
To facilitate the public in reading the Basic Law articles and relevant documents, the CMAB has uploaded the full text of the Basic Law to the dedicated Basic Law website and smart-phone application. To cater for different needs of the public, the CMAB has also prepared printed copies of the Basic Law which are available at the public enquiry service centres of the District Offices, the Civic Education Resource Centre, the Basic Law Library, etc. The CMAB will also distribute printed copies of the Basic Law during the Basic Law promotion activities such as roving exhibitions, mobile resource centre, seminars, etc.
As regards the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law (BL23), the HKSAR is constitutionally obliged under BL23 to enact laws for national security. The HKSARG administers in accordance with the Basic Law. However, we do not have any plan to enact laws in respect of BL23 for the time being.
Ends/Wednesday, April 22, 2015