Pro-Beijing figure Choi Yuk-lin has been appointed as Hong Kong’s undersecretary for education despite weeks of vocal opposition from the pro-democracy camp.
The principal of the Siu Sai Wan campus of Fukien Secondary School – considered a pro-Communist Party institution – was included in a list of 10 individuals appointed as bureau undersecretaries on Tuesday afternoon. The school has not yet made any announcement as to whether she will remain principal.
Choi was also a vice-chair of pro-Beijing industry group the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers (HKFEW), but chairperson Wong Kam-leung told Commercial Radio that she had resigned from the group on Monday.
She ran against Ip Kin-yuen for the education sector seat in last September’s Legislative Council elections, but lost to the pro-democracy candidate.
Rumours of Choi’s appointment have circulated in the local media since late June, when Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the officials in her cabinet. 6,000 teachers and 11,000 other Hongkongers signed a petition opposing her appointment, though pro-Beijing activists have also signed a petition supporting her.
Last week, activist Joshua Wong claimed that Choi’s HKFEW was behind Hong Kong’s controversial national education curriculum proposal in 2012. Then a high school student, Wong eventually led a series of protests against the curriculum.
Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis, a group supporting Cantonese as the city’s language of instruction, added that Choi was behind proposals to teach Chinese using Mandarin.
Members of both Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis and Wong’s Demosisto party attempted to visit the HKFEW’s headquarters in Mong Kok on Monday, saying they wanted to speak to Choi directly. However, HKEFW staffers did not answer the door, reported InMedia.
Aside from Choi, several other bureau undersecretaries announced on Tuesday have backgrounds in pro-Beijing political parties. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB)’s Caspar Tsui has been appointed undersecretary for labour and welfare. He will serve under bureau secretary Law Chi-kwong, who was once a member of the opposition Democratic Party.
DAB member Bernard Chan will become undersecretary for commerce, while the Liberal Party’s Joseph Chan – a current Central and Western district councillor – and Mark Fu will become undersecretary for financial services and political assistant to the Secretary for Transport and Housing respectively.
Personnel appointments for several senior posts, including the undersecretaries for home affairs and transport, have yet to be announced.