Librarians of the eight universities in Hong Kong have called on the government to exempt them from the subversion law when it is enacted. They fear sensitive collections in their libraries may breach the law in future, with academic freedoms being eroded. Secretary for Security Regina Ip said yesterday the government would take their views into consideration. Sensitive books'' include publications on the Falun Gong, the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, articles by Tiananmen student leader Wang Dan, collections on Taiwan independence and even publications on how to overthrow a government''. According to the consultation paper on a proposed subversion law under Article 23 of the Basic Law released by the government last month, it would be an offence to deal with or possess seditious publications without reasonable excuse and with the knowledge or suspicion that they would incite treason, secession or subversion. Police will also be granted the power to enter and search libraries if they are suspected to have publications which are seen as seditious. Librarians fear this may infringe academic freedom and the freedom of information.
In the case of libraries, just recognise that because they are neutral places, that they should be exempted from any rules that might restrict their ability to collect and distribute information,'' Hong Kong University librarian A W Ferguson said. [...]
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