Statement of the education sector: Demanding government withdrawal of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance amendment bill
The government’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance amendment bill is so unreasonable and untenable that when faced with the bill, teachers cannot remain silent.
First, exchanges between teachers of universities, secondary schools, primary schools, kindergartens and special needs schools and their Mainland counterparts are already very common; teachers taking students on Mainland study tours are also increasing by the day. Hong Kong people generally lack confidence in the Mainland’s law enforcement and justice system, where failures of justice, frame-ups and evidence-planting degenerating into political persecution are frequently heard of. Past incidents involving the seizure of persons in Hong Kong to the Mainland had occurred in secret and outside of the law. Once the amendment bill is passed, and public authority is abused, the danger of Hong Kong people being extradited will increase tremendously.
Secondly, the government’s lies in proposing the amendment bill have all but been exposed, for example, the so-called “sympathy” or “compassion” for the Taiwan homicide case is in fact exploitation of the victim and her family in order to hurry passage of the Bill. Released official records also belie the claim that there is a 20-year-plus loophole to be closed, showing even Mainland acknowledgement at the time that the real reason was defective Mainland laws. The government and its supporters raise all sorts of unjustifiable claims and attempt to ride roughshod over the Legislative Council with a consultation period of only twenty days. This is no less than publicly hoodwinking Hong Kong people and insulting their intelligence.
Thirdly, although only acts considered as constituting an offence in both Hong Kong and the Mainland are extraditable, apart from criminal acts, laws relating to intellectual properties, the national anthem law that is being vetted, the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law that will sooner or later return, and the applications of national laws to Hong Kong which are in the hands of the NPC in accordance with Annex III of the Basic Law can all become openings for extradition. Limited to considerations on prima facie evidence, it will be difficult for Hong Kong courts to gatekeep for Hong Kong people. The Legislative Council’s Legal Advisor has also expressed serious misgivings about the bill. Hence, if the bill is passed, all Hong Kong people will face hitherto non-existent dangers of extradition.
Fourthly, the mission of education is to help students develop qualities that would in turn help them live good lives and build good societies, with corresponding attitudes and values. In teaching, educators need sufficient space for free discussion with students in order to explore issues of truth, goodness and beauty as well as other values like democracy, justice and freedom. The bill suppresses free discussion in teaching, educators will be wary of speech crimes, resulting in self-censorship and decline in teaching quality.
All in all, on the Mainland, human rights are not yet respected, trials cannot be said to be fair, justice succumbs to politics and corruption is rampant. Once the bill is passed, Hong Kong will lose the freedom from fear. Teachers cannot remain silent when justice is trampled. In order for future generations to not face the danger of extradition to the Mainland, we strongly demand that the government withdraw the amendment bill. If the government insists on its course, we demand that all legislators veto the bill.
Progressive Teachers' AllianceScholars' Alliance for Academic FreedomHKEd4AllProgressive Scholars Group