Dad in leap threat over school rebuff
A father whose son's bid to enter an elite English-language school was rejected caused traffic chaos yesterday by threatening to jump off a footbridge in Wan Chai.
Paul Li Chun-yin's act followed a series of protests that he began last week after blaming the policy to reduce class sizes in secondary schools for King's College's refusal to enrol his 12-year-old son despite his outstanding academic results.
On Thursday last week he camped outside government headquarters in Central vowing to sleep on the street until his son received favourable treatment.
Just before 10am yesterday he climbed onto a footbridge in Hennessy Road and threatened to jump off.
He came down voluntarily after about an hour, during which time traffic jams had clogged Causeway Bay-bound roads, stretching as far back as Central.
Rescuers inflated emergency air cushions and sent negotiators to the roof of the bridge.
'This was my last resort. I have run out of options,' Li said after he was detained at police headquarters in Wan Chai.
'If there had been no class reduction, the whole thing would not have happened.'
King's College is among about 200 schools that decided to cut one class from Form One from the beginning of this academic year due to the drop in student numbers.
A school official said Li's protest would make no difference to its decision.
'He has the freedom to do whatever he wants,' said a senior college executive, who refused to give his name.
The college would not comment officially, saying principal Nancy Chan Woo Mei-hou was on a business trip until next Monday.
Li's wife said she did not know in advance what her husband had planned to do.
'I did not know where he had gone when I got up at nine,' the wife, who did not provide her name, said.
'I then got a call from the government negotiators about the situation. I was so shocked. But it is the fault of the Education Bureau,' she said.
Li's son, who was among the top 10 pupils at his primary school, was offered a place in a Chinese-medium school.
Refusing to accept this, Li made several attempts at other schools, which all rejected his application because they were full.
'I cannot accept the fact when I see he has got such good results,' Li said. He said he felt the reason why his son had been rejected was because his family had not made any donations to the school.
The Education Bureau said it would offer any necessary assistance to the Li family.
A bureau spokeswoman said that Li had been given a list of schools with vacancies but he had insisted his son should go to an English-medium school.
'We are very concerned about the student's academic future and I hope that Mr Li will find a school for the child as soon as possible,' she said.
The bureau did not say whether it would take any action against Li, although parents can be jailed for keeping their children out of school without a proper reason.
Li's wife said that their son was staying in Shenzhen 'so he will not know anything about it'.
In June, a police officer died when he fell from a footbridge while trying to persuade a protesting poultry worker to come down.