Hong Kong teachers’ union is one inciting ‘white terror’ not us, says Education Bureau

Zoe Low

The city’s main teachers’ union should support the Education Bureau and cut ties with “a small group of troublemakers” rather than spreading disinformation, the bureau has said in a rebuttal of the union’s claim it is creating white terror within the education sector.

The bureau’s statement follows a brewing row over its handling of complaints against teachers involved in anti-government protests, which has seen 80 teachers and teaching assistants arrested. It had also received 123 protest-related complaints against educators, with wrongdoings confirmed in 13 cases.

On Friday evening, the pro-democracy Professional Teachers’ Union is expected to hold a rally in Edinburgh Place over what it calls “white terror” imposed by the government. The union earlier accused education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung of trying to gag dissident views in schools by warning even headmasters could be dismissed if they could not handle “problem teachers” properly, referring to remarks made by Yeung in an interview with a Communist Party news website.

“The Professional Teachers Union’s continuous twisting of the education minister’s words makes people wonder if they are trying to incite teachers’ emotions and promote their rally, as well as its political agenda,” the bureau’s spokesman said.

“The bureau has repeatedly explained the complaints process, but the union continues to twist facts and spread worry among teachers. It seems to be the one that is actually inciting white terror.”

Education minister Kevin Yeung has been accused of trying to gag dissent. Photo: Winson Wong

The bureau accused the union, which represents about 85 per cent of teachers in the city, of a loss of professionalism, and said the government had a responsibility to follow up with every case of a teacher being charged, arrested or having complaints made against them to ensure the welfare of students, and maintain the standard of the education sector.

Teachers had every opportunity to appeal against any complaints made to the school authorities, the bureau said, and it would review reports made by the schools and strike down any unfounded complaints.

If wrongdoing was confirmed, the teachers would also be given the chance to submit a written explanation, the statement said, adding the process was fair.

“It is flatly spreading white terror,” said Fung Wai-wah, the union president. “The education sector is being scapegoated. The present crisis Hong Kong is facing is due to the government’s refusal to listen to the people’s views.

“But the government or the pro-establishment camp blame the teachers for encouraging students to take to the streets.”

Fung also said the union was planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help teachers facing suspension over their involvement in protests.

Friday’s rally is expected to last for two hours, starting from 7pm. A turnout of at least 5,000 is expected. Fung said representatives from overseas teachers’ unions would also attend to show support to their counterparts in Hong Kong.

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