Following is a question by the Hon Wong Ting-kwong and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (November 11):
Some people have relayed to me that radical forces have recently emerged in Hong Kong disseminating views advocating the independence of Hong Kong and instigating anti-parallel trading protests. Such views and actions have torn Hong Kong's community apart, deepened the conflicts between the people on the Mainland and in Hong Kong, and caused the Central Authorities to worry about Hong Kong's future. They also think that although it has been 25 years since the promulgation of the Basic Law, the Government's efforts in promoting the concept of "one country, two systems" of the Basic Law have so far been over-emphasising the rights of Hong Kong people under the "two systems" while neglecting their obligations under the "one country". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has reviewed the effectiveness of its past efforts in promoting the Basic Law; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether it has studied the causes for the recent emergence of radical forces in Hong Kong and the impacts of such forces on the youth;
(2) as there are views that there is inadequate understanding among members of the public about the contents of the Basic Law and the process by which it was drafted, of the means that the authorities will use to deepen the understanding of the public, particularly the youth, in this regard, including the understanding that the "one country" and the "two systems" in the "one country, two systems" concept are equally important; and
(3) as the Chief Executive said last month that "all people in Hong Kong, especially politicians and young people, need to gain a comprehensive understanding of the country's development from different perspectives, both for the good of the country and for their own careers", and that the Government was ready to facilitate communication between all sectors of Hong Kong and the Central Authorities as well as local governments of various provinces and municipalities on the Mainland, of the Government's plans to facilitate such communication so as to enhance the understanding of the Motherland among all sectors in Hong Kong?
Our reply to Hon Wong Ting-kwong's question, after consulting the Education Bureau (EDB) and Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), is as follows:
(1) and (2) 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). In accordance with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the National People's Congress enacted the Basic Law, prescribing the systems to be practised in the HKSAR, in order to ensure the implementation of the basic policies of the People's Republic of China regarding Hong Kong, i.e. "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy.
The Basic Law was promulgated on April 4, 1990 and formally implemented on July 1, 1997. Over the years, the HKSAR Government has been actively conducting Basic Law promotion and education through various approaches and channels in an easily understandable manner. The HKSAR Government established in January 1998 a Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee (the BLPSC) comprising both official and non-official members and chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration. The BLPSC provides the necessary steer on the overall strategy and key aspects for promoting the Basic Law, and coordinates the efforts of Government departments and various stakeholders in the community as well as community organisations in taking forward Basic Law promotion activities.
Five working groups have been set up under the BLPSC, namely the Working Group on Local Community, the Working Group on Teachers and Students, the Working Group on Civil Servants, the Working Group on Industrial, Commercial and Professional Sectors and the Working Group on Overseas Community. The five working groups discuss and suggest detailed proposals for the five specific sectors.
The HKSAR Government also conducts territory-wide promotion activities for the general public, including the use of electronic media such as Announcements in the Public Interest on television and radio, Internet and mobile application; organising exhibitions (e.g. roving exhibitions in shopping malls and a mobile resource centre); and co-organising large scale activities with community organisations (e.g. seminars, talks and debate competitions).
The HKSAR Government will evaluate in an appropriate manner the understanding of the Basic Law by the public and the effectiveness of the various promotional activities. For example, we will record the hit rate of the Basic Law website and the number of downloads of the mobile application. Regarding promotion activities held at the district level, such as roving exhibitions and the mobile resource centre, we will record the public's participation rate and responses. We will also collect feedback from teachers and students on the effectiveness of the mobile resource centre promotion in school visits and review the reports on such activities. At the same time, our colleagues will conduct on-site observations and check on the activities, and prepare reports to evaluate the effectiveness of the various community activities under the Basic Law Promotion Sponsorship Scheme. The HKSAR Government trusts that the public has attained a basic understanding of the Basic Law through different channels and various types of 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 topics from daily lives, the HKSARG has also organised large-scale activities, including a seminar and a thematic exhibition, so that the public can have an in-depth understanding of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law.
Moreover, individual bureaux/departments have also organised activities for their target groups. For example, the EDB has produced Basic Law visual learning packages for upper primary and junior secondary students and organise territory-wide inter-school quiz competitions; the Civil Service Bureau has organised thematic talks on the Basic Law; the Trade and Industry Department has organised thematic seminars and a souvenir design competition on the Basic Law; and the Information Services Department has produced a 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, as well as the Basic Law Promotion Sponsorship Scheme under the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau have also encouraged community organisations to stage activities at the district level to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law. The EDB has also subsidised educational groups and tertiary institutions to carry out Basic Law promotion activities through the Quality Education Fund and the Basic Law Promotion Funding Scheme for Tertiary Institutions.
With regard to the "radical forces" mentioned by Hon Wong Ting-kwong in his question, I would like to reiterate two points. Firstly, Hong Kong is a place governed by the rule of law. Any person who wishes to express his/her different views, irrespective of his/her age or background, must abide by the law. In fact, Article 42 under Chapter III of the Basic Law, which is about "Fundamental Rights and Duties of the Residents", states clearly that "Hong Kong residents and other persons in Hong Kong shall have the obligation to abide by the laws in force in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region". Secondly, the majority of Hong Kong citizens attach great importance to rational communication and inclusiveness, and they do not welcome radical behaviours in Hong Kong.
(3) According to the information provided by the EDB, the Bureau has all along been organising Mainland exchange programmes to complement students' learning. It continues to adopt a variety of strategies and increases the annual quota to subsidise students to join Mainland exchange programmes. It will also continue to organise Mainland exchange programmes of various themes with visits to different provinces and cities to enable students to have a deeper understanding of our country's development in terms of history, culture, economics, technology and infrastructure, etc. through first-hand experience.
According to the information provided by the HAB, the Bureau and the Commission on Youth (CoY) have been subsidising Mainland exchange activities organised by community groups and non-governmental organisations. The HAB and the CoY have launched the "Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland" since 2014 to subsidise Mainland internship programmes for youngsters organised by community organisations. Through these internship programmes, youngsters will experience first-hand the actual situation of working in the Mainland, enhance their understanding of the job market and development opportunities in the Mainland, and acquire work experience which gives them the competitive edge in job hunting.
The HAB organises the Service Corps programme which provides opportunities for Hong Kong youngsters to engage in voluntary services in underprivileged areas in the Mainland for six months or longer. This year, the HAB has launched a new programme called the Guangdong-Hong Kong Youth Volunteer Service Programme which allows Hong Kong and Guangdong tertiary students to participate in voluntary services together in villages and towns in four cities in Guangdong Province during their summer holiday so as to enhance exchanges and mutual understanding.
The HKSAR Government will continue to promote the Basic Law through various approaches and channels. We are also very willing to listen to the views and proposals of the Members in this aspect.
Ends/Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:44