A high-profile tutor accused of bribing a public exam assessor three years ago told a court on Monday the marking scheme he published online during the testing period was not confidential.
Kris Lau Koon-wah, 45, allegedly offered HK$1,000 (US$130) to 21-year-old Seraph Wong Tsz-hin, who worked as a marking assistant with the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, in exchange for confidential information from the English Listening and Integrated Skills paper of the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) in April 2017.
Lau, who worked for tuition school Modern Education tutoring English, was tried alongside his former student Wong at West Kowloon Court, after the two denied one joint count of conspiracy for an agent to accept an advantage.
Prosecutor Henry Ma Ka-fung said Lau published the assessment criteria on his Facebook page, along with information on how candidates had done on the paper, while the DSE exam was ongoing.
An inquiry by the city’s graft-buster revealed that Lau had told Wong via WhatsApp he would give him HK$1,000 for the tip, Ma continued.
Lau’s lawyer David Ma Wai-kwan cast doubt on the information’s confidentiality, saying the Facebook post in question might simply have been an analysis of the paper based on information already made public.
He added that knowledge of how candidates had performed in the tests might have been provided by Lau’s students, rather than an insider.
The court heard that Lau sent Wong a voice message via WhatsApp on April 20, asking for details about the general performance of candidates in the English listening exam.
“Give me a list of what you observe in marking the papers,” Lau said in the recording.
He told Wong not to worry about what he was going to do with the information, adding: “Take the money, you brat. It’s your pay.”
In another voice message, Lau told the co-defendant: “Give it a better look and I’ll copy and paste the whole thing online, okay? It will be credited to a graduate of Kris Lau’s classes.”
Wong later replied with a voice message, saying: “Only need to post the lower part of it. Who will bother to look at it this early in the morning?”
Lau published the disputed post the next day. On May 13, he sent HK$1,000 to Wong’s bank account.
Choy Siu-kwan, then assistant general manager of the assessment authority, told the court the content in the post was highly consistent with the official marking scheme, which would only have been disclosed by the authority in November after the conclusion of the exam.
She said Wong was barred from divulging any information he obtained during his service.
In cross-examination, she accepted the authority had no power to bar candidates and teachers from discussing the public exam, but stressed the Facebook post was problematic in that it expressly stated the information was provided by an insider.
The trial continues before magistrate Jocelyn Leung Siu-ling on Tuesday.