Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying has criticised the Education Bureau as being lenient on teachers who make anti-police remarks – despite the bureau issuing condemnation letters to two such staff.
The Education Bureau confirmed on Thursday that it had received 58 complaints about teachers’ conduct in relation to “social events in recent months.” Two cases were found to be substantiated, five were not substantiated, and the rest were still being considered.
The two teachers who faced substantiated complaints – Alvin Tai and Colin Lai – have received condemnation letters. They were also warned that the bureau may strip them of their teachers’ registration if they make further missteps.
The move comes as the force remains under fire for its handling of the summer’s anti-extradition law protests. Calls for the ill-fated bill to be scrapped have evolved into demands for a fully independent probe into alleged police misconduct.
Tai previously said on social media that “children of those police officers using excessive violence will die before seven.” Lai changed his profile picture to show the words, “corrupt cops, may your whole family die.” Both men later deleted their posts and apologised.
On Thursday, Leung singled out Hong Kong’s education chief Kevin Yeung for criticism – adding that this was his “first time to publicly criticise a sitting government official.”
“The education sector is a disaster zone, because no one has regulated it properly. The Secretary for Education is dragging his feet and tolerating rulebreakers,” Leung wrote in a Facebook post.
Leung on Friday doubled down by saying that the Education Bureau should not be “neutral” when dealing with those who express anti-police views.
It came after the bureau tried to defend its move, saying that it treated the cases “fairly and in accordance with established mechanisms” and with a “neutral and professional approach.”
Leung said that neutrality was not applicable once it was established that the teacher had made “radical and vicious remarks against the children of police officers.”
“The only ‘approach’ is to protect students and purify the learning environment, and the only correct decision is to fire [Tai], to distance students from this type of people,” the former chief executive wrote.
Ip Kin-yuen, a pro-democracy lawmaker representing the education sector, said that the government’s response to the teachers was “overly harsh.”
Head of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) Fung Wai-wah also warned against the possibility of “white terror” in schools, as the standards for policing speech on teachers’ social media accounts were not transparent.
“Would it be that complaints against yellow ribbons will be treated seriously and efficiently, while those against blue ribbons will not? The Education Bureau needs to explain, otherwise it is hard for the public to believe there was no bias,” he said, in reference to the pro-democracy and pro-Beijing supporters.
However, Chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers (HKFEW) Wong Kam-leung said that the two teachers were let off easy. Punishing individuals can help the public regain trust in the education sector, and serve as a reminder to other teachers regarding their speech and actions, he said.
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