Protest mars Eddie Ng's London visit
Tanna Chong in London
It was a frosty greeting for Hong Kong's education secretary on his first visit to London, with protesting students disrupting a speech and demanding he resign.
Speaking at a forum on Monday with about 100 local educators, business leaders and Hongkongers studying in Britain, Eddie Ng Hak-kim was embarrassed by six students who criticised him over the issues of cross-border pupils and the now-abandoned national education course. Ng was in London for the Education World Forum, a global summit for education ministers.
Ng was repeatedly challenged by students who accused the government of being unable to tackle the pressure on the city's social and welfare systems caused by the influx of mainlanders. They cited the recent shortage of primary school places in North District. The protesters waved placards, interrupted Ng's speech, and called for his resignation.
Protester Jun Yip, a recent graduate of Newcastle's Northumbria University, said: "We would like to seize this opportunity to address the problems that we see over … the recent response that Mr Ng made about national education and the influx of mainland [pupils]."
The government shelved its controversial national education programme after a 120,000-strong protest in September.
The large number of cross-border pupils has caused a shortage of about 1,400 Primary One places in Sheung Shui, Fanling and Sha Tau Kok, the Education Bureau said last week.
While some locals are unhappy with the influx and worried that the problem will get worse, Ng said "type-two babies" - born in Hong Kong to mainland parents - have created an opportunity for aspiring teachers. "People say the population is shrinking and the teaching industry seems to be dying. But we have these type-two babies," said Ng. "There are 210,000 of them, and they are new blood for our population."