Torture 'acceptable' to many teachers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 June, 2011, 12:00am


Many of Hong Kong's liberal studies teachers find the use of torture acceptable in police investigations and believe social stability should come before individual liberties, according to a survey result described as shocking by a teachers' union.

The survey, conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Education and sponsored by the Quality Education Fund, interviewed more than 700 liberal studies teachers from 255 secondary schools last year.

It found that 35 per cent of the teachers agreed that the use of torture by police in obtaining evidence was acceptable, while half said they were willing to give up personal liberties for social stability.

Fung Wai-wah, chairman of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, described the findings as shocking. 'It is indisputable that torture should not be used during interrogation. We ought to find out why there is such a belief among teachers,' he said.

Education sector legislator Cheung Man-kwong said the result pointed to a gap in the education system. 'Civic education should focus on universal values. We should not give up on these values,' he said. 'Teachers should know of and insist on these values so they can teach students to insist on them themselves.'

Liberal studies entered the senior secondary academic structure during a review of the education system and became a compulsory subject for those studying for the Diploma of Secondary Education. The first batch of pupils started the subject in 2009.

Unlike languages, science and other mainstream subjects, the teachers do not have a fixed syllabus and critics have complained about the ambiguity of subject guidelines.

Researcher Leung Yan-wing, from the institute's centre for governance and citizenship, said the findings reflected the fact that some teachers were conservative.

'There are more open-minded teachers but as a matter of fact there are also a group of people who believe in the mainland way,' Fung said, adding that society should guard against erosion of the fundamental values of democracy and human rights.


The number of liberal studies course modules, including personal development, Hong Kong today, modern China, and globalisation