Pressure on government rises as teachers seek Fanny Law's resignation The government came under intense pressure yesterday as thousands of protesters joined the largest demonstration of teachers held in Hong Kong, with more protests expected to follow. The teachers, estimated to number at least 10,000 by the Professional Teachers' Union (PTU) and around 7,500 by police, demanded a review of education reforms and the resignation of Permanent Secretary for Education Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun. The union organised the rally to protest against reforms and Mrs Law's remarks this month that if two teachers had committed suicide because of educational reforms, why were there not more. Mrs Law apologised the following day. Szeto Wah, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, who is a former secondary schoolteacher, called the demonstration the beginning of a mass movement. 'This is just the kick-off. After the Lunar New Year, we will have a second action. After Easter, there will be a third action, and after that there are still the fourth and fifth actions.' The Education and Manpower Bureau defended the reforms last night, saying they were designed to cater for students and were being implemented after extensive consultation and additional resources. Protesters held a minute's silence in memory of teachers Yu Kei-cheong, 42, and Lam Hang-hong, 54, with the union blaming their suicides on work pressure. Cheung Man-kwong, the union's chairman, said: 'Mrs Law's improper remarks have been the biggest shock to education since the handover. As it is so important that thousands of teachers have come out to demonstrate, it is time for her to decide to accept the demands of the PTU or step down.' The protesters gathered in Edinburgh Place in Central before marching to the Central Government Offices, where the union delivered a letter stating its demands to the government. Teachers tied yellow ribbons they had been wearing to railings as a symbol of their hopes and demands. These demands include reducing class sizes, an end to the closure of schools and reduction in number of classes, more permanent teaching staff, and sabbatical leave - with full pay - for professional development. The rally was addressed by teachers, principals and academics representing all levels of education. Nine legislators, including Mr Cheung, also spoke to the crowd. Several protesters listened as they marked homework. Chinese-language teacher Kitty Chan, from a Kwun Tong secondary school, said it took her eight to 10 hours to mark compositions for a class of 43 students. 'Mrs Law has never taught. She doesn't know how many hours it takes to do this marking.' The Education and Manpower Bureau issued a statement after what it described as a 'teachers' procession'. 'All major policies have undergone thorough consultations, incorporated extensive views and secured support before being put in place progressively. The policies were not determined by individual officials,' a spokesman said. It acknowledged that an increased workload was inevitable as teachers improved their services. The government had tried to help by increasing funding by 16 per cent, from $24.8 billion in 2000-01 to $28.8 billion in 2005-06.