Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defends decision to cut ties with city’s largest teachers’ union
- Chief Executive Carrie Lam accuses Professional Teachers’ Union of spreading anti-government sentiment on campus
- But Lam remains tight-lipped on whether PTU is being investigated by any law enforcement bodies
Hong Kong’s leader has defended the authorities’ decision to cut ties with the city’s largest teachers’ union, accusing it of spreading anti-government sentiment on campus and hijacking the education sector.
Lam broke her silence two days after the Education Bureau announced it would sever all links with the 95,000-member PTU, the city’s biggest union for a single profession.
The bureau will no longer regard the PTU as a professional body, and neither engage in any meetings with it nor take its opinions on matters relating to the sector, nor look into cases referred by the union.
“We have to admit there is something wrong in our education when thousands of students – who lack law-abiding awareness – joined the violent and illegal protests, with teachers found to be organising and joining [such activities] and even being arrested,” Lam said.
“We are determined to right the wrong to let education just be education.”
Lam accused the PTU of placing its political stance above the profession and even spreading “anti-government” or “anti-Beijing” sentiment to influence pupils.
“As the city’s biggest education group, it has hijacked the education sector which has made Hongkongers have a negative impression towards the profession. I think that is very unfair to our teachers,” she added.
Addressing her change in attitude towards the union, Lam said there was room before for “rational interactions”, but not after the 2019 political crisis, which was sparked by her ill-fated extradition bill.
Lam insisted the decision to cut ties with the union was not prompted by commentaries by two Communist Party mouthpieces which branded the PTU a “malignant tumour” that had to be eradicated – although the announcement came just hours after the articles were published simultaneously on Saturday.
Earlier, the PTU, founded in 1974 by pro-democracy icon Szeto Wah, expressed disappointment and regret over the bureau’s decision, saying it would be a loss to the whole education sector.
“The union has a positive impact on safeguarding workers’ rights and bettering policies. Even though we have different views, if the bureau decides to cut ties with the union, it will be a loss to the whole industry,” it said.
The Post has contacted the union for comment.