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2017.06.26

 

Objection to Ms CHOI Yuk-lin

becoming Under Secretary for Education

Dear Members,


It is widely reported that Ms CHOI Yuk-lin of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers (HKFEW) will be appointed Under Secretary for Education. At this, I was shocked and about her appointment, I have strong reservations. Her performance (getting only 28.3% of the votes) in last year’s Legislative Council election clearly reflected her lack of popular support in the education sector. If she is indeed appointed Under Secretary for Education, such an appointment represents nothing but slapping voters hard across the face and will be hardly acceptable to the education sector.

In addition, Ms CHOI is one with a strong political background. As a Vice-Chairperson of HKFEW since 2008, Ms CHOI was fully supported by the Federation in last year’s Legislative Council election. Ms CHOI and HKFEW have, for quite a period of time, been staunchly escorting those Government policies of which the education sector is highly critical, such as Primary 3 TSA and brain-washing-type national education and they do not have the slightest intention of protecting university autonomy and academic freedom. If the report is true, the general public will inevitably query whether this is political intervention and whether this is to serve a political purpose. If the education sector has a deep distrust of her, it will be very difficult for her to implement education policies.

The said appointment immediately provoked shock and dissatisfaction in the education sector and teachers launched an online signature campaign to voice objection to it (https://goo.gl/pYac7r). Within the short space of just a few days, there have been thousands of people joining the signature campaign. We would, therefore, urge Chief Executive-elect, Mrs Carrie LAM, not to appoint a controversial and inappropriate figure as Under Secretary for Education, so as to allow the education ecology to return to normal.

I would call on fellow workers to keep a close watch on further developments of the issue and to express your opinions, which can be emailed to [email protected].

How to make Prudent Use of $5 Billion
EDB refusing to reveal contents of its closed-door meetings with the Central Government Responding to EDB’s teaching materials on ‘The Constitution and the Basic Law’ and the new secondary school curriculum development guidelines
Impeachment motion against Chief Executive LEUNG Chun-ying Snapshots Speeches

How to make Prudent Use of $5 Billion


Chief Executive-elect, Carrie LAM, pledged to increase our recurrent expenditure on education by $5 billion and to accord priority to this item after the election. On 22 May, Mrs LAM had a meeting with representatives (including me) of more than 20 major education organisations and presented her initial proposals. Many of them are in line with the aspirations of PTU and others in the education sector. They provide correct policy directions for the implementation of education policies by the new Government.

Together with kindergarten education organisations, PTU’s President FUNG Wai-wah and I had a meeting on 9 June with the Director of the Chief Executive-elect's Office, Mr Eric CHAN, and presented to him the aspirations of the kindergarten education sector, including implementing a timetable for the introduction of a pay-scale for kindergarten teachers, clearly establishing staff resources for coordinating school-based curriculum development, providing allowances for substitute teachers when teachers are on sick leave or maternity leave, providing Special Education Coordinators (SENCOs) and IT staff. We also presented our aspirations for the long-term development of kindergarten education.

Furthermore, PTU organized on 10 June a consultation meeting called ‘Concrete Proposals for the use of the newly added $5 billion’, at which we directly reported the latest developments to fellow workers and listened to their valuable opinions.

EDB refusing to reveal contents of its closed-door meetings with the Central Government

Earlier in a newspaper article, Mr LUI Ping-kuen, Senior Lecturer at the Baptist University, pointed out that Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie NG Hak-kim, was suspected to be concealing the establishment with the Ministry of Education of a consultation mechanism by which both parties hold two scheduled working meetings a year. In this connection, I raised an oral question at the Legislative Council meeting on 31 May urging EDB to let the public know what this consultation mechanism, which has already been in operation for more than a year, was all about. (video)


In reply, however, EDB indicated that it was inappropriate to release documents of the meetings and to quote what was discussed at the meetings because of the need to ‘respect the other side’ as these scheduled meetings with the Ministry of Education were conducted behind doors.

Certainly, I do not deny the need for exchanges and co-operation between the two governments. However, EDB should explain to the public why exchanges with the Central Government at Ministerial and Committee levels have suddenly become scheduled meetings and the ways in which these scheduled meetings are different from earlier exchanges.

Responding to EDB’s teaching materials on ‘The Constitution and the Basic Law’ and the new secondary school curriculum development guidelines

On 31 May, EDB updated the secondary school curriculum development guidelines, asked junior secondary schools to reserve 51 hours of class time for the study of the Basic Law and provided a 15-hour independent unit entitled "Constitution and the Basic Law".

The change in teaching materials has generated a number of problems. For example, it draws an analogy between the principal of a school authorizing a teacher to manage a class and the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR. Such an analogy is inappropriate because it fails to reflect the roles played by the Basic Law and the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Principle in the relations between the Central Government and the HKSAR.

In addition, EDB also requires schools to fill in forms setting out teaching plans and self-assessments in respect of the teaching of the Basic Law and fill in teaching hours, students’ learning activities, and learning experiences gained on the Mainland and other non-local learning experiences, etc.

These strict requirements are, I believe, quite different from those relating to the teaching of traditional subjects like Geography and English and generate pressure on schools. These requirements should be abolished.

Impeachment motion against Chief Executive LEUNG Chun-ying

For the suspected interference – through Hon Holden CHOW Ho-ding of DAB – on the part of Chief Executive LEUNG Chun-ying in the work of LegCo’s Select Committee on UGL, 28 Democratic Legislative Councillors submitted a joint written motion to impeach LEUNG. (video)

The Legislative Council is not a servant of the Chief Executive. Rather, monitoring the functioning of the Government is its most important role. There must exist a suitable distance among the three powers, a concept of which LEUNG cannot be unaware. However, he chose to interfere, in the way he did, in the Council’s affairs. By interfering in the way he did, not only did he interfere in the Select Committee’s independent investigation, LEUNG also transgressed the bounds of participation in LegCo’s affairs by the Chief Executive or by the executive authorities.

The impeachment motion, unable to secure enough votes in both groups of geographical constituencies and functional constituencies, was unfortunately negatived by the pro-establishment camp.

Education Seminar

On 27 May, I attended by a PTU-organized education seminar entitled ‘Focus on Education: primary and secondary school issues to which the new Government should pay particular attention’ for professional exchanges on education resources and policies.

Not forgetting the 4 June incident

On 4 June, I attended a June 4 candle-light mourning rally in Victoria Park and helped to raise funding for the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. I hope that a permanent June 4 Memorial Hall can be established as soon as possible.

Meeting a delegation from the Parliament of Hungary

As Chairman of LegCo’s Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee, and accompanied by Subcommittee members, I had a meeting with a delegation from the Hungarian Parliament. We had a useful exchange on matters of interest to the legislature in Hong Kong and Hungary.

A happy parents-children day

On 11 June, more than 20 organisations had a ‘Fun and Good Mood @ Baodi’ Parents-Children Day on the Ground Floor of Legislative Council Complex. Through activities and stall games, we let our children have a pleasant learning experience and express to the Government our aspirations: ‘Stop Primary 3 TSA’ and ‘Let our children have a happy childhood again’.

Legislative Council meeting held on 31 May: Motion Debate
Urging the next Chief Executive to start again political reform

Legislative Council meeting held on 7 June: Oral Question
Responsibility rests squarely on EDB to find solutions for sub-standard school premises

Legislative Council meeting held on 8 June: Motion Debate
Not forgetting the 4 June incident

Representative of Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union
in Legislative Council,
Hon IP Kin-yuen
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