Bad behaviour deserves to be punished

Civic Passion lawmaker and hothead Cheng Chung-tai has lost his job as a lecturer at Polytechnic University, and his departure can’t come too soon

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 2:05am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 2:05am

We hacks are not seen as paragons of virtue, even by ourselves. But with the four newsrooms I have worked for, each one had a contract clause that said any behaviour that reflected badly on the company and its reputation was a dismissible offence.

I don’t know whether Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai had a similar contract clause with Polytechnic University, where he has been a social science lecturer. In any case, scholars who educate our youth are reasonably held to a higher standard of public behaviour, especially if you also happen to be a legislator.

Hong Kong lecturer decries ‘political persecution’ after Polytechnic University lets him go over Chinese flag desecration

In September, Cheng was found guilty of desecrating the national and Hong Kong flags in the Legislative Council chamber and fined HK$5,000. This was the primary factor that the university considered in deciding not to renew his teaching contract when it ends this June. But it hints that other incidents involving Cheng may have been considered as well.

Cheng said the decision was “absurd” and an example of the mainlandisation of local universities. Really? In October 2016, he was captured on television overturning the small flags put in front of the desks of pro-government lawmakers in the Legislative Council.

Watch: Cheng Chung-tai turns national flag upside down

He said their display was a “cheap patriotic act”. Maybe it was, or maybe not. But overturning the flag of any nation inside a legislature is offensive and childish. In Hong Kong, desecrating the Chinese flag is also a crime, something Cheng surely knew.

Cheng said at the time that he was angered by the pro-establishment bloc’s treatment of localist legislators Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who were subsequently disqualified over improper oath taking.

Hong Kong lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai charged over upside down flags

But Cheng is just an unmitigated hypocrite. Subsequently, in June last year, he was secretly taped shouting Cantonese obscenities while discussing Leung and Yau with party colleagues and saying they both “should just die”. He complained about having to pretend to be their friend, “to make it look like I was helping them”.

He also called the voting public “retarded” because “they assume I am part of localism”, adding, “some even think I belong to Youngspiration”.

Youngspiration is the political party of Leung and Yau.

If Civic Passion had been a responsible mainstream party, it would have sacked its chairman. Alas!

If I were the university, I would have dismissed him already, instead of waiting for his contract to expire.