Former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying on Monday lashed out at a local vice-principal, calling him the “shame of the world’s education sector” and demanding he be sacked for posting anti-police comments on social media.
Leung, who now serves as vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body – the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – wrote a letter in his official capacity over the remarks of Alvin Tai Kin-fai, the assistant principal of the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union Logos Academy.
At centre was a post on Tai’s Facebook page in which he said he “wishes the children of those policemen who have used excessive force die before seven years old, or die an unnatural death before 20 years old should they now already be seven or older”.
The anti-police comments sparked criticisms after a screen shot of the post was circulated online.
In the letter addressed to the school supervisor, Rev Chung Ka-lok, Leung said: “That such a vicious attack, coming from the mouth of an assistant principal of your school, not only shocks the entire Hong Kong society, but also it probably can be classified as the shame of the world’s education sector.”
The issue cannot be explained away by saying that ‘the remarks are only Tai’s personal views’
Leung Chun-ying, former chief executive of Hong Kong
He continued: “The issue cannot be explained away by saying that ‘the remarks are only Tai’s personal views’. Please dismiss Alvin Tai from office so as to warn others against following a bad example.”
A spokesman for the school was unavailable for comment.
In a statement on the school’s website, Chung said Tai’s remarks were his personal views and had nothing to do with the school, its sponsoring body, or any staff members. In the same statement, the school’s management committee expressed deep regret, saying it would seriously follow up on the issue and would not allow any reoccurrence.
Fung Wai-wah, president of the Professional Teachers Union, accused Leung of trying to interfere with the school’s autonomy.
“If Leung has very strong view about the issue, he can simply write a private letter to express his concern. Now that he uses government stationery and letterhead, it will give the public the impression he is exerting pressure on the school,” Fung said.
“Administratively, the school supervisor does not need to listen to a former chief executive who has no role to play in school affairs.”
Fung said he believed the school would launch an investigation.
He added: “Even if there is a case to follow, the school should give a warning first, not necessarily having to sack the staff member in question.”
Wong Kwan-yu, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said Leung was entitled to his opinions and had the right to write to the school to express his views.
“Teachers, like ordinary people, may also have their own political views or hold a political stance. But spreading hate speech is unacceptable,” Wong said.
“Teachers are professionals and we have much higher expectations for them. We can’t say teachers are not teachers after office hours and they can do whatever they wish without considering the possible impacts to students and society.”
Earlier this month, Colin Lai Tak-chung, a liberal studies teacher at Sacred Heart Canossian College, drew criticisms for posting anti-police remarks on his Facebook page and using as his profile picture the phrase “black cops’ families all die”.
Lai later apologised and retracted the remarks. He also quit his post at the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority’s committee on liberal studies.
A spokesman for the Office of Former Chief Executives was unavailable for immediate comments.
In a statement on Monday, a spokesman for the Education Bureau said spreading hate speech, “especially threats targeting children and young people was absolutely unacceptable”.
He said the bureau had contacted the school and asked it to submit a report. The spokesman also said the bureau had received complaints and would follow up the case according to established procedures.
According to the spokesman, the permanent secretary for education could revoke the registration of a teacher if it was found that the teacher had breached professional conduct.
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