Former Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying has listed the names of 18 teachers charged over last year’s social unrest on his Facebook page, two weeks after taking education authorities to court for failing to publicly identify those found guilty of professional misconduct.
The city’s largest educators’ association, the Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU), slammed Leung in response on Tuesday, saying his hostility towards the sector had driven a months-long campaign targeting those involved in the anti-government movement.
In his social media post, Leung, now a vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body, criticised the Education Bureau, PTU and school-sponsoring bodies for depriving parents of their right to know about the teachers’ off-campus activities.
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He said that 803 Funds Limited, the group he founded last year to trace anti-government protesters allegedly involved in criminality, would publicise information about problematic teachers collected through different channels after verifying their identities with the relevant schools.
Leung began that process by listing the personal information of 18 teachers and tutors – culled from local media reports – in his Facebook post.
The list included their ages, details of their charges – illegal assembly and assaulting police officers among them – and, for some, the names of their schools. The education institutions have not been revealed in court, but were identified in news accounts by mostly pro-Beijing news outlets.
As a public figure ... how often have we seen people like him target the education sector in such a manner, both in Hong Kong or in mainland China, or even in other parts of the world?
Professional Teachers’ Union vice-president Ip Kin-yuen
The former city leader has been actively pushing the government to publicly identify teachers involved in professional misconduct along with their schools, despite refusals by education officials citing privacy and other concerns.
Last month, 803 Funds applied to the High Court to seek a judicial review to force education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung to make public the teachers’ details.
The Education Bureau, in a reply to the Post on Tuesday, did not address the question of whether Leung’s listing of the teachers’ information was appropriate. It said it would not comment on the matter as a legal procedure was under way.
Ip Kin-yuen, vice-president of the 100,000-strong PTU and an opposition lawmaker representing the education sector, on Tuesday slammed Leung’s posting of the list as “unnecessary and full of hostility”.
“As a public figure, and with the titles that [Leung] carries, how often have we seen people like him target the education sector in such a manner, both in Hong Kong or in mainland China, or even in other parts of the world?” Ip asked.
He added: “Plus, he said the details he listed have already been made public previously. If they are already in the public domain, why does he need to list them out again?”
But Wong Kam-leung, chairman of the pro-establishment Federation of Education Workers, said he believed the move did not represent a major privacy concern given that the information was publicly available.
“I believe schools will not be affected that much, as the information was in the public domain,” said Wong, whose union boasts 35,000 members. “Teachers should be reminded to act professionally, and should not let politics override their professionalism.”
On Monday, Leung also hit out once again at education chief Yeung, questioning if teachers had been allowed to broach the topic of Hong Kong independence in local classrooms.
A primary schoolteacher was deregistered last month for creating lesson plans that included discussion of pro-independence messages and freedom of speech with Primary Five pupils.
In the wake of the unprecedented move, Yeung said teachers should guide pupils to the conclusion that Hong Kong independence was impractical if the topic surfaced in classrooms, while stressing that schools should not include discussions of the subject in its curriculum.
But pro-Beijing heavyweight Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, China’s top legislative body, called Yeung’s explanation “inaccurate”, saying independence should not be touched on at all, as it could put schools in violation of the city’s sweeping new national security law.
An Education Bureau spokeswoman said in a reply that if pupils raised questions related to Hong Kong independence on their own, teachers should make it clear the idea was not correct and therefore did not require much discussion.
Students should also be told the concept was now illegal under the security law, she added.