My Take

Opposition to Christine Choi is opposition for opposition’s sake

The newly appointed undersecretary for education has the credentials to do the job despite what the naysayers claim

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 11:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 11:49pm

I have never met Christine Choi Yuk-lin, the newly appointed undersecretary for education. I bet you haven’t, either. Yet, many people have strong opinions about her.

The government has just announced the appointment of 10 undersecretaries and eight political assistants, but Choi attracted all the attention. The opposition has mobilised a months-long campaign against her. But let’s ignore the news reports for a moment and focus on her background and published views.

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Her CV looks okay: long-time school teacher, principal of a large school, degrees in linguistics and Chinese literature from Baptist University and a PhD in education from the Chinese University. Good, these are legitimate universities, unlike the academic credentials of some public figures. Still, the education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen has accused her of being unqualified. She had, he said, only worked as a lowly officer at one time in secondary school curriculum development at the Education Bureau. Ip and Choi were schoolmates; she might have lectured him when he was studying for a Master’s degree in education at Chinese University.

He also said she lost to him in the last Legislative Council election for the education seat. It’s true she received less than 30 per cent of the sector’s votes. Should that disqualify her from taking a government job? Legco’s education sector has always been an opposition stronghold, with the Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) playing kingmaker. Ip is the PTU’s vice-president. Surprised?

As an opposition member, he had been busy encouraging university students to protest and boycott classes and fighting against the teaching of Putonghua in schools and the funding of belt and road scholarships.

Choi was more narrowly focused. She advocated the bureau to overhaul new changes in secondary school curriculum, class sizes, medium of instruction and inclusive education such as putting students with special needs in regular classes. Teachers face “unbearable pressure”, she once wrote, and they need adequate resources to implement those changes properly.

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Her real sin is that she had supported national education and was associated with a group that had produced “biased” teaching materials. The opposition says that’s brainwashing, but they say it’s okay for teachers and students to advocate Hong Kong separatism in school. It’s not up to her whether national education is reintroduced, but if it does happen, you might want an experienced and moderate educator to be put in charge rather than a diehard ideologue.