Speech at Council Meeting-Members’ Motions “Implementing patriotic education in greater depth and breadth”


President, the Patriotic Education Law of the People’s Republic of China was adopted by the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress, with the aim of strengthening patriotic education in the new era.  I am deeply grateful to Ms Starry LEE and the three Members for proposing the motion and amendments, urging the SAR Government to attach great importance to the efforts in promoting patriotic education.

Looking around the world, we can see that implementing patriotic education for the people is an obligation for all governments.  In recent years, the SAR Government has been actively integrating national education into our education system by organizing activities such as the National Security Education Day and Mainland study tours for secondary school students.  The previous weak sense of national identity in society has been improved.  Nonetheless, the Government should not relax its efforts, but it should continuously lead and deepen its efforts in patriotic education.  It should proactively liaise with the relevant Mainland authorities to complement the implementation of historical and cultural education and education in the practice of “one country, two systems”.

Article 29 of the Patriotic Education Law stipulates that during major festivals, various characteristic folk culture activities and commemoration and celebration activities shall be organized to enhance people’s affection for the country.  Three categories of festivals are listed therein.  President, the first category is traditional Chinese festivals that represent cultural heritages with national characteristics, such as the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Qingming Festival and Dragon Boat Festival; the second category is major modern Chinese festivals that carry profound memories of revolutions and socio-economic development, such as May Fourth Youth Day in commemoration of the youth movement and China Farmers’ Harvest Festival.  The third category is major international festivals that signify the common pursuit of the world’s people, including International Workers’ Day, International Women’s Day and International Children’s Day.  These major festivals manifest the common affections and values of the nation and serve as symbols and signs of the national spirit.  They are also valuable resources for patriotic education.

Particularly, the first category, namely traditional Chinese festivals, is of great importance.  Even though festive celebrations are still prevalent in Hong Kong society, they have become increasingly commercialized and entertainment-oriented, gradually losing their true meaning.  To many people, those festivals are nothing more than “statutory holidays” or merely occasions for feasts and fun.

Each traditional festival has its specific theme.  They are rich in cultural connotations and embody the ideals of the Chinese people throughout generations, including their relentless pursuit of a better life, gratitude and reverence for nature, and the hope for family reunion.  These are all distinctive national sentiments of the Chinese people.  The Government should explore the cultural connotations of the festivals, publicize them with greater efforts and organize more cultural activities so as to guide members of the public to actively take part in and experience the festive customs.  In this way, their appreciation of the national culture and their sense of national esteem will be imperceptibly enhanced.

Furthermore, education must be supported by “hardware”.  Since 1996, our country has named and announced 585 “patriotic education demonstration bases”, covering museums, memorials, martyrs’ cemeteries, historical buildings and construction achievements.  The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge well-known by Hong Kong people is also enlisted.  The Policy Address proposes to set up museums to showcase the development and achievements of our country, including establishing the Hong Kong Museum of the War of Resistance and Coastal Defence, focusing on the history of the War of Resistance.  Before the commissioning of the new museum, exhibition galleries will be set up in existing museums to display the relevant content.  In fact, many venues in Hong Kong are suitable for carrying out patriotic education, such as the Hong Kong Palace Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Cenotaph for Martyrs.  With reference to the practice of our country, we can formulate a list of “patriotic education bases” in Hong Kong to fully capitalize on our own resources and advantages, and provide convenience for teachers and parents to bring students and children there for learning, thereby utilizing the venues for patriotic education.

In addition, Articles 11 to 23 of the Patriotic Education Law set out the duties and tasks of various responsible parties, including mass organizations such as trade unions, communist youth leagues and women’s federations, as well as schools, parents, social organizations and religious groups.  The Government can refer to the scope of coverage and review the existing policies, and thus encourage various sectors in the community to work together, implement patriotic education and carry forward the spirit of patriotism.

With these remarks, President, I support the original motion and the amendments proposed by the three Members.