Public backs HKSAR gov't cutting ties with politicized teachers union

2021-08-02 09:00:33China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Photo taken on June 29, 2021 shows China's national flags and flags of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on a street in China's Hong Kong. (Photo/Xinhua)

Hong Kong civic leaders threw their weight behind a decision by the special administrative region's government to cut ties with a local teachers union, which they said acts more like a political group than one representing teachers.

Earlier on Saturday, the HKSAR's Education Bureau announced it would cease all working relations with the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, saying it no longer regards the group as a professional education body.

The bureau will no longer have formal or informal meetings with the PTU nor seek its input on education-related issues. It will consider terminating PTU members' appointments to advisory committees and related educational bodies under the bureau's purview.

Lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a member and former chairwoman of the Legislative Council's Panel on Education, said the union is in essence an anti-Beijing group that aims to destabilize Hong Kong. That trait has been pervasive, she added.

Under its influence, many PTU members spread the wrong messages to students, misleading young people to oppose the nation and local government, Ip said.

In past years, the PTU has participated in activities held by two radical political organizations-the Civil Human Rights Front and Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.

During the "Occupy Central" movement in 2014, the PTU published teaching resources with contents on civil disobedience for teachers. During the 2019 social unrest, it lobbied teachers to launch many class boycotts, and it recently promoted books that glorify violence, according to the Education Bureau.

A spokesman for the bureau said the PTU's comments and actions in recent years have rendered it no different from any other political group. Instead of shouldering its responsibility of the education profession, the group added fuel to the fire and violated its mission at the expense of students' benefits, the spokesman said.

Leung Chun-ying, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the group's previous conduct has proved it to be a purely political organization.

Compared with other groups believed to have played a role in destabilizing society, Leung said, the PTU is more radical and has caused greater harm to the city.

Leung said he hopes union members will cut ties with the group and denounce its political stance.

Wong Kwan-yu, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said the PTU is the largest education group in Hong Kong, yet it severely harmed the reputation of Hong Kong teachers and raised doubts about their professionalism. The PTU has also had a very negative effect on young people, he said.

Political and educational leaders have called on the HKSAR government to launch an investigation into the union. If it is found to have violated laws, the authorities must handle the matter seriously, they said.

Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu told reporters on Saturday that all local organizations are subject to the relevant laws. If any group acts beyond the scope of its professional purview, the government will deal with the matter as prescribed by the law, he said.


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