A war of words erupted on Sunday between former Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying and a lawmaker representing teachers after the ex-leader accused elements of the profession of radicalising the city’s youth.
Leung also defended his controversial naming and shaming on Facebook of 18 teachers charged over last year’s anti-government protests, a move critics likened to Cultural Revolution-era persecution.
Lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, of the Professional Teachers’ Union, which has a 100,000-strong membership, accused Leung of hypocrisy for ignoring the government’s role in driving young people to radicalism.
Leung told a radio programme on Sunday that while social unrest had broken out in many parts of the world, only Hong Kong’s protests
involved the arrest of more than 1,000 under 18s and over 100 schoolteachers.
“We have to admit that there must be something wrong with Hong Kong’s education,” said Leung, who is now vice-chairman of Beijing’s advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
“Where do the arrested young people learn this from? Who are their ‘close contacts’? I believe a fair portion of them are teachers and they are the black sheep.”
The privacy commissioner said it had received 17 complaints about Leung’s disclosure on his Facebook page of the personal details of teachers charged in relation to the protests.
But the former leader denied he had breached privacy laws, insisting he simply collated the information from existing media reports.
Citing a British example, Leung said the country’s Teaching Regulation Agency routinely published the names of teachers under investigation. He argued parents had the right to know the identity of these teachers so they could protect their children.
Leung’s latest remarks drew strong criticism from opposition lawmaker Ip, who represents the education sector in the Legislative Council.
Ip argued that it was the government’s disregard of public opinion and police’s abuse of power that was fuelling the radicalisation of the city’s young people.
“It is hypocritical for Leung to pretend he does not see the crux of the problem and selectively attack teachers,” he said on social media.
Ip also slammed Leung for failing to acknowledge that the Teaching Regulation Agency he cited did not allow anonymous complaints and also had a fair-hearing mechanism.
Leung has been actively pushing the government to publicly identify teachers involved in professional misconduct, and their schools, amid opposition from education officials citing privacy and other concerns.
The 803 Funds Limited – the group the former city leader founded last year to trace anti-government protesters allegedly involved in criminality – earlier applied to the High Court seeking a judicial review to force education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung to publish the teachers’ details.
Earlier this month, a teacher from the private Alliance Primary School in Kowloon Tong became the first to be taken off the professional register for “promoting Hong Kong independence” in the classroom.
The staff member was said to have posed four questions to Primary Five pupils studying life education after showing them a television documentary featuring pro-independence activist Andy Chan Ho-tin, including asking them whether they agreed with his banned party’s manifesto.
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