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2019.11.28

 

District Council Election Results and the PolyU Incident

Dear Members,

With public sentiments strongly against the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance amendment exercise, the District Council Election, which has just ended, turned into a referendum between the pan-democratic camp and the pro-establishment camp. With a turnout rate of over 70%, the pan-democrats secured 385 seats: a result which far exceeded expectations and which, once again, reflected the overall will of the people of Hong Kong. I hope that the Government will draw a lesson from this painful experience, resolve Hong Kong’s political problem in a political way, and establish an independent investigation committee to thoroughly look into police violence so as to calm down people’s fury.

While the District Council Election is over, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) incident has yet to come to an end. For several consecutive days, I was at the scene. Three days ago, more than 100 newly elected District Councillors came to the campus to show their support for those who remained inside. They sent five representatives to work together with us – professionals who have been working on the campus to persuade those who were still there to leave, including lawyers, medical professionals, social workers and religious figures – to continue with the persuasion work. With our efforts in the past few days, more than one thousand citizens and students have already left safely. We believe that the number of holdouts is extremely small and that the incident will soon be resolved. To our fellow colleagues, I would like to report the following salient points.

Rescuing students trapped inside PolyU

On 17 November, a fierce clash broke out between the police and demonstrators at PolyU and thereabouts. More than one thousand people, including students, were trapped inside the university. At a time when PolyU was besieged by heavy police presence, the police went on to announce that those who were inside PolyU would be arrested for rioting. We must point out that the PolyU campus is an open area, where ordinary citizens can go for various reasons. At the time when the clash broke out, many of those who were on the campus were not demonstrators. For example, some were PolyU’s teaching staff and students, and some were secondary school students visiting PolyU to collect information on university admission programmes.

On that night, with a view to offering assistance, together with several other LegCo Members and Bishop Joseph HA Chi-shing, We gathered outside PolyU.Unfortunately, no much could be achieved. The following day, I liaised with the Government and several secondary school principals. Within a very short time, we readily obtained the support of more than 30 principals. We decided to and held an urgent press conference in the afternoon, at which we urged students not to harm themselves and requested the police to exercise restraint.

Noticing the press conference, the Government got into contact with Mr TANG Chun-keung, Chairman of the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools. After much co-ordination, I invited a voluntary team of lawyers and, together with more than 50 principals, we entered PolyU slightly after 10 pm to look for trapped students. On that night, more than 100 secondary school students left PolyU. An additional 200 plus secondary school students left in the few days that followed. This incident well demonstrated the solidarity of the education sector. With students’ safety as the most important premise, the principals helped students of their own as well as those of other schools to leave the campus. It was a touching process.

On 25 November, a small number of holdouts remained inside PolyU. I hope that they can leave, soonest possible, in a safe and dignified manner. I have liaised and exchanged ideas with PolyU. I hope that the university administration will take over control of the campus and the police will withdraw and that the incident can come to a peaceful end.

District Council Election Results and the PolyU Incident
I welcome JUPAS Office’s decision to postpone the deadline for online submission of applications Requesting cash allowance for campus cleaning and suspension of ‘external school reviews’ and ‘focus inspections’
Strengthening coordination of speech therapy services Snapshots Speeches

I welcome JUPAS Office’s decision to postpone the deadline for online submission of applications


The deadline for online submission of applications under the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) was originally set for 11:59 pm on 4 December.

As reflected by many principals and teachers, the operation of schools has been affected by the situation in society and students' emotions may also have been affected by the current social atmosphere, which has made it difficult for them to be focused on their studies. In addition, the information days of various post-secondary institutions have been cancelled. These developments mean that our students would need more time to understand the contents and admission requirements of their favourite university programmes. In view of these factors, I wrote to the JUPAS Office on 19 November requesting that the Office exercise its discretion and postpone the deadline for the submission of online applications.

In its prompt reply of 22 November, the JUPAS Office indicates that the deadline has been postponed for one week to 11:59 pm on Wednesday 11 December. I welcome this decision and believe that the additional time will enable students to better prepare their online applications.

Requesting cash allowance for campus cleaning and suspension of ‘external school reviews’ and ‘focus inspections’

Social disputes triggered by the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance amendment exercise, coupled with class suspension for one week – and longer due to school-based suspensions by individual schools – have resulted in operations in schools being affected to a certain extent.

From quite a number of principals and teachers, I have received reports that campus activities and exams had to be cancelled or postponed, and teaching has been lagging behind due to class suspensions. They hope that EDB will, in view of the prevalent special situation, suspend in this school year sending officers to schools to conduct external school reviews, focus inspections, etc., so as to enable schools to have more time to focus on the handling of school affairs and any unexpected incidents. They also consider that EDB should allocate, to those in need, an extra cash allowance to help schools to clean up residues of tear gas grenades and pepper sprays.

In this connection, I have written to EDB and look forward to its active follow-up actions.

Strengthening coordination of speech therapy services

To strengthen school-based speech therapy services, the Chief Executive announced, in last year’s Policy Address, ‘creating school-based speech therapist posts in public sector ordinary schools by phases in three years starting from the 2019/20 school year’ (paragraph 170).

Among the first batch of schools approved to create speech therapist posts, many have reported to me that they have not been able to find speech therapists to take up the posts. The problem remains unresolved even when they make use of allowance to buy speech therapist services from service providers. Services to their students have either been disruptive or their service hours halved. As for those schools that have been buying services, the speech therapists allocated to them are subject to frequent changes as a result of speech therapists ‘jumping’ from one service provider to another and hence the services they receive are extremely unsteady.

Earlier on, I raised this problem in the Legislative Council. EDB admitted that among the 118 regular speech therapist posts created in the first year, 29 remain vacant spread over 58 secondary and primary schools. If necessary, the Bureau will adjust the pace of implementation of relevant services taking into account the wishes of schools.

Regarding the supply and demand of speech therapists in the coming few years, the Administration has not been able to provide updated information, apart from saying that the census conducted in 2014 revealed the existence of some 640 speech therapists. The education sector will need a total of nearly 600 speech therapists in the coming few years. This, coupled with the need for more than 500 regular posts by Social Welfare Department’s subsidized elderly and rehabilitation service units, means that the number of speech therapists required by the education and social welfare sectors will increase from the existing 800 to more than 1,100 in 2021. This figure has not yet taken into account the demands of post-secondary institutions, the Department of Health, the Hospital Authority and the private sector. The Administration believes that the current training and related developments are progressing well and that there is no plan to change the existing modus operandi.

While a policy is good, it must be matched by the availability of relevant manpower. Therefore, the Government must review the supply and demand of relevant professionals and strengthen communication with relevant sectors and coordinate the pace of service so as to avoid the sequelae of service providers ‘robbing professionals one from the other’ and service quality being adversely affected.

Attending a talk and the AGM of the Hong Kong Special Schools Council

On 26 November, I attended a special talk and the AGM of the Hong Kong Special Schools Council. The talk, entitled ‘New Opportunities for Continuous Learning for Graduates of Special Schools’, was delivered by Professor SIN Kuen-fung, Director of the Centre for Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education of the Education University of Hong Kong.

In addition to sharing with us his research experience at EdUHK, Professor SIN also, with the use of statistical data, highlighted the current situation of special education students, and explained the concept and implementation of the ‘Project for Lifelong Learning of School Leavers with Special Education Needs’ jointly organised by EdUHK, Jockey Club and the Government: How to help special education graduates to continue their lifetime learning and to make use of their strengths.

Visiting Kwai Tsing District Health Centre (DHC), the first DHC in Hong Kong

Prevention is better than cure. I have always supported the strengthening of primary healthcare services, which promotes healthy living and reduces the burden on our medical system.

The government has planned to set up district health centres in all districts in Hong Kong. On 25 November, together with representatives of LegCo’s Panel on Health Services, I visited Kwai Tsing District Health Centre (DHC), the first DHC in Hong Kong and gained a better understanding of the centre’s operation and the health management model of primary healthcare. Kwai Tsing DHC, run by a non-governmental organization and operating through medical-social cooperation and public-private collaboration, provides various government-funded primary health care services, including health promotion, health assessment, chronic disease management and community rehabilitation services.

Attending the AGM of Subsidized Primary Schools Council

I was invited to attend the AGM of Subsidized Primary Schools Council on 21 November. I offered congratulations to the new Chairlady, Principal CHUNG Lai-kam and members of the Executive Committee on their formal assumption of office.

All present were familiar faces. I hope that we will all continue to have close cooperation, strive for excellence and work together to enhance the quality of education.

No fear of injection

On 26 October, I visited Rhenish Mission School Kindergarten Section, one of the schools participating in the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach Programme (Vaccination Programme at School).

The principal indicated that the entire process of the Programme, implemented for the first time in schools, went smoothly. Parents told me that the Programme provided them with convenience and assurance because kids could get vaccinated in an environment familiar to them and parents needed not go out to scramble for vaccine.

15 November 2019 Finance Committee
Abrupt change of stance by the pro-establishment camp: Government swiftly withdrew appropriation item for PolyU’s expansion works project

8 November 2019 Panel on Health Services
Follow-up on implementation of Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach Programme in kindergartens

1 November 2019 Panel on Education: Policy Briefing Session and Meeting
Government should launch again the school improvement works project

Representative of Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union
in Legislative Council,
Hon IP Kin-yuen
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葉建源議員辦事處 Office of Legislative Councillor Ip Kin Yuen (Education Constituency)
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