Pro-Beijing group Silent Majority has been criticised for sending “reporters” into a secondary school, after one of its teachers – also a popular blogger – criticised a rally of over 30,000 police union members last month.
Several pro-democracy lawmakers have condemned Silent Majority’s “harassment” and “threats” towards the CNEC Lau Wing Sang Secondary School in Chai Wan. Principal Cheng Tak-foo told local paper Ming Pao he wished students could have a peaceful studying environment.
Teacher Edward Yau – who uses the pen name Kursk – wrote an article last Wednesday criticising the rally held in support of seven officers convicted of assaulting pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang. He condemned the force for not reflecting on its actions, and compared their actions to those of Nazi soldiers.
“After Nazi Germany surrendered, many SS officers who participated in the slaughter inside concentration camps… thought that they were only obeying orders… and did not think they were wrong.”
“The several thousand police officers who turned out in support of the ‘seven police’ – what were they thinking in the bottom of their hearts? Do they also think that the seven did no wrong?”
A speaker at the rally had suggested that police were being persecuted in the same way Jews were during the second world war.
Ming Pao reported that, following the publication of the article, Silent Majority had sent “reporters” into Yau’s school, demanding talks with principal Cheng over the Nazi analogy. They also visited the clinic at which the school chancellor worked.
The pro-Beijing group is best known for mobilising supporters against the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests. Its founder Robert Chow told Ming Pao that its “reporters” followed the same practice as every newspaper in asking for a response from the school.
Chow said that they were asking the principal and chancellor to state that they would not “encourage talk of independence” by teachers in the school.
However, Yau is not known to be a Hong Kong independence advocate.
Scared of facing the ‘media’
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Silent Majority accused Yau of being scared of facing the “media,” and made a number of allegations against his school.
“In his school, even the principal is ashamed of himself, and will not respond to the incident,” wrote the group. “The chancellor is too lazy to care, Lau Wing Sang secondary school might have serious governance problems.”
Principal Cheng responded to Ming Pao’s enquiries, saying that Yau spoke in a personal capacity, enjoyed freedom of speech, and that the school would not interfere.
Cheng added that more than one online media outlet had approached him, but he was politically neutral, and wishes only that students would have a peaceful studying environment.
Yau has since closed his Facebook and website, saying that he will not write comment pieces in the short-term.
‘Harassment’ and ‘threats’
Several pro-democracy lawmakers have since condemned Silent Majority for visiting the secondary school. Localist legislator Cheng Chung-tai criticised the group on social media on Thursday for “showing its teeth and claws” outside the school.
“The group is using the incident to harass teachers and students at the school, and at the same time threatening Hong Kong’s education sector,” he wrote.
Democratic Party legislator Ted Hui added in a press release that it was extremely inappropriate to bring political battles into the classroom.
However, when approached by Ming Pao, the Education Bureau did not condemn Silent Majority. Instead, it said that society had set very high expectations for the behaviour of teachers.
“Teachers need to pay attention to their words and actions,” said the bureau, “so as to give a good example to the next generation.”
The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union called the bureau’s response “disappointing.”
“The Education Bureau should take responsibility for protecting those in the classroom from being harassed by external organisations,” said the union in a statement on Thursday.
“Its reckless questioning of a teacher’s speech and actions shows that it is incapable of protecting the rights of frontline teachers.”