• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 10:35am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Occupy Central a no-go area in class, Eddie Ng warns

Teachers' turn to get some plain speaking, from their top boss Eddie Ng, about the risks of egging on pupils or taking part in action

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 3:59am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 10:51am

The education minister yesterday urged schools not to encourage their pupils to take part in Occupy Central - which he deems "unlawful" - in a reversal of the stance he declared last year.

The civil disobedience campaign for democracy is also the trigger behind a warning that a pro-establishment group has issued to more than 500 secondary schools, reminding them of their legal responsibilities.

Teachers and democracy advocates saw the latest remarks by Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim as an attempt to create fear and put pressure on schools to eschew discussion of the movement.

Ng said: "We appeal to chairpersons of school boards, principals, teachers and parents … not to take part in or arrange for pupils to join the unlawful Occupy Central. It's impossible for [the campaign] not to break the law."

He warned teachers they might be putting their jobs on the line. "Teachers should obey the law. If they are convicted because of participation in unlawful events, they must face ... consequences for their careers."

In March last year, Ng said schools should let pupils "develop their own thoughts" on Occupy and "will not take any retrospective action against teachers" who took pupils to join it.

The campaign vows to mobilise more than 10,000 people to block the main streets of Central if the government fails to offer a satisfactory plan for universal suffrage in the 2017 election of the chief executive. The government plans to put forward its reform proposal later this year.

One of its organisers said Ng's words were meant to strike fear into educators. "Many supporters of Occupy Central are teachers," Dr Chan Kin-man said. "Ng's remarks constitute deprivation of teachers' civil rights."

Parents might also be emboldened to pressurise schools into avoiding the topic, he said.

The Professional Teachers' Union expressed condemnation as well. "Teachers have to encourage pupils to think independently and make rational judgment … Ng's remarks amount to serious political pressure." The union will petition Ng today.

Isabel Chan Fung-man, president of Kowloon City's parent-teacher association, said it was necessary for liberal studies teachers to open the topic for discussion, and to "encourage pupils to analyse it and decide for themselves" whether to join in.

But James Lam Yat-fung, chairman of the Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, saw Ng as giving schools direction on how to react to the movement.

Meanwhile, an anti-Occupy group wrote to scores of secondary schools, warning them of the consequences should their pupils become part of the action.

"Many teachers encourage pupils in liberal studies classes to join Occupy. We do not want to see pupils being misled into taking part," Robert Chow Yung, one of six convenors of the Silent Majority for Hong Kong, said.

The group cautioned that parents might take civil action against schools for negligence of duty of care if pupils who had been egged on were arrested or injured during events.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said there might not be enough grounds for such civil claims. "It is hard to define whether Occupy Central is unlawful now, as [the occupation of Central streets] has not happened yet," he said.

Additional reporting by Shirley Zhao



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This article is now closed to comments

Wow, running scared and nothing's happened yet! Mr Ng's problem is that nobody has any respect for him as Education minister and so these dire warnings can only be viewed as unwarranted political pressure on teachers to prevent open discussion on all aspects of constitional reform within the classroom - no true discussion or independent thinking will be allowed! This is still HK where we have freedom of thought and discussion - Mr Ng should remember that!
Thank you, Mr. Ng, for reminding us why we need Occupy Central.
This bully, Eddie Ng, needs to resign now. As someone who doesn't support the Occupy Central plans I am astounded that a society such as Hong Kong's could allow such an individual to hold a responsible political office.
Guess the leash on Mr. Ng's neck was tightened and now the pup is going back into the kennel with its tail between its legs...
Sorry...but that's an insult to dogs, even dogs have more courage than Mr. Ng.
Who says Occupy Central is illegal? It is not illegal until the police deem it illegal. Just like any other protest.
Past experience has shown that the HK government only listens when it is bullied by the people, so I say occupy the hell out of Central. We are suffering under an appalling political system designed to enrich the parasite tycoons and landlords, stunningly incompetent governance, insane town planning, pandering to the greedy indigenous mafia, and an obsession with pouring concrete. So yes, a giant protest is most definitely called for.
Why would I want a job where I'm just a figurehead or a mouthpiece for someone who really doesn't care about whether people in Hong Kong rot or prosper?
Will stick with managing assets than going to a public sector job where I get paid whether I perform or not.
I get that you're saying the job of an Education Minister is a tough job, and I'm sure it is trying to please so many conflicting parties, but it's not like the education system is taking any leaps and bounds since he took on the appointment.
well said!
Well at least the current government are consistent in their position that people stating their views which run contrary to those espoused by the Masters in Beijing are illegal and not harmonious. Next step will be to make sure that the police keep them in line and prohibit demonstrations and squelch dissent. CYL and his minions such as Carrie deserve a massive bonus from their masters in Beijing for doing such a good job to quell discussion that questions the Masters. How dare people in HK think other than as ordered by Beijing.
White terror ramping up.



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