Benny Tai Yiu-ting

HKU professor points to bias against rule of law among liberal arts teachers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2013, 6:09am


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A University of Hong Kong law professor, who helped host a workshop to educate liberal studies teachers, says he believes too many of them are biased against the rule of law.

Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law and the convenor of a steering committee for the rule-of-law education project, said he realised that some liberal studies teachers had insufficient legal knowledge, as became apparent during their attendance of the project's workshops.

As an example he cited a judicial review of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project, which a resident, concerned about its environmental impact, sought and was granted in 2010.

Approval of the application led to substantial delays in the HK$30 billion project, which has since gone ahead and is now due for completion in 2016.

"Many teachers, like the general public, thought that the judicial review had led to the loss of a lot of money … they even doubted whether there should be a judicial review," he said. "But a judicial review is an essential tool for the legal system to restrict [the abuse of] power."

In another case, he said some teachers were unsure whether it was unacceptable to use torture to obtain evidence. "I feel a little bit disappointed [about these biased perceptions]," Tai said.

Legislator Ip Kin-yuen, a lawmaker who represents the education sector, supported the initiatives of the workshop. "Law and order concerns the concepts of human rights, litigation procedures and the core value of Hong Kong," he said. "To teach students, teachers need to have clear understanding about these concepts."

He also said that teachers varied in their abilities to teach the new and broad curriculum introduced in 2009, which is compulsory for all secondary students. The rule-of-law education project is co-organised by HKU's faculty of law and the Hong Kong Institute of Education. About 100 teachers have joined the three workshops, held free of charge, last year. The next one will be held in April.