Asia - Pacific

No separation of powers in Hong Kong: Chief executive

Education department removes 'separation of powers' from texts, drawing criticism from teachers' body

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 01.09.2020
No separation of powers in Hong Kong: Chief executive

ANKARA

Hong Kong's top official on Tuesday said there was no "separation of powers" in the semi-autonomous region's constitution. 

"A high degree of autonomy does not equate to full autonomy," said Chief Executive Carrie Lam, according to the Beijing-based Global Times daily.

"Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy came from authorization from the central government, and the chief executive is responsible to both the central government and the special administrative region," Lam said.

Lam's statement came after a controversial change in Hong Kong Liberal Studies textbooks, removing the phrase "separation of powers."

The move was criticized as "political censorship" by the city's largest teaching union, according to the Hong Kong Free Press, with Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung on Monday defending it at a press conference.

"There was no separation of powers in Hong Kong, whether it was before Hong Kong's return to the motherland in 1997 or after it under the Basic Law. These facts have to be made clear in textbooks," said Yeung.

After scrutiny by Hong Kong Education Bureau, at least six publishers had to revise the content of Liberal Studies textbooks.

Throwing her weight behind Yeung, Lam said: "Due to misunderstandings, some people may raise the issue of 'separation of powers,' and some may deliberately misguide others, while the government will tell the truth to the public."

The change comes after a new security law passed in China's National People's Congress came into effect in Hong Kong on July 1, drawing criticism within Hong Kong and in the international community, which Beijing has dismissed as "foreign intervention."

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous region that has been part of China since 1997, when the UK handed over the former colony to Beijing.

Since last year, it has witnessed widespread protests sparked by a move to legalize extradition of people to mainland China.

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