Members of Hong Kong’s biggest teachers’ union have agreed to speed up the disbandment of the 47-year-old organisation by amending its constitution so fewer members are required to initiate the process. A special meeting of 140 members was held on Saturday to discuss the necessary constitutional changes after the embattled Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) announced earlier this month it was breaking up under pressure from authorities which have accused it of inciting violence and anti-government sentiment in schools. The afternoon session saw the passing of a resolution that will allow the union to be dissolved if two-thirds of attendees at a special members meeting vote to do so, PTU president Fung Wai-wah told reporters. Previously, it would have required the approval of two-thirds of the 95,000-strong membership. “The original threshold is too hard to reach,” Fung said. “Today’s meeting was quite smooth, as a majority of members attending the meeting supported the amendment. “Some members told us in the meeting that they felt sad about the disbandment, yet they understand and respect PTU’s decision.” Fung added they hoped to hold an extraordinary general meeting sometime in September to ensure the break-up happened as quickly as possible. The union will fix a date once the government has approved their amendments to the constitution. Hong Kong’s biggest teachers’ union drops political bombshell, announcing its disbandment Some of the union’s businesses have already closed. The two large supermarkets it operated in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, which sold everything from groceries to home appliances and also ran several health clinics, ceased operations on Friday night. As of the end of last year, the group had cash and deposits amounting to HK$125 million (US$16 million) and HK$58 million in liabilities. A PTU insider said it would follow its constitution in first repaying all liabilities then distributing the remaining assets evenly among qualified members. The pressure on the PTU first began piling up on July 31, when the Education Bureau announced it was cutting all ties with the union just hours after Communist Party mouthpieces Xinhua and People’s Daily called it a “malignant tumour” that had to be excised given its role in 2019’s anti-government protests. The union took several conciliatory steps following that decision including issuing an open letter pledging to refocus on the education sector and its welfare efforts. It also left the opposition-leaning Confederation of Trade Unions and severed ties with Education International, a Brussels-based federation of educator groups that had drawn the ire of pro-Beijing media. The PTU announced a new working group dedicated to raising awareness of Chinese history and culture among teachers and pupils. But at an August 10 press conference, Fung conceded the attempts at conciliation had been in vain, saying the union could not “see a future” for itself. According to the insiders, over the 11 days between the bureau’s severing of ties with the union and the announcement of its dissolution, PTU leaders had explored a variety of options to stay afloat, only to receive multiple indications – both public and private – that it was impossible. ‘Heartbreaking but expected’: teachers’ union members mourn loss of defender Union leaders were told separately by several figures with close ties to Beijing that their efforts to start toeing the line were “useless and ineffective”, and that the central government’s stance would not soften. Yet in past weeks, even the announced break-up of the group seemed to not be enough for Beijing, which continued attacking it through state media, accusing it of avoiding accountability and demanding further action by law enforcement. The opposition-leaning PTU was the first of three major groups that decided to disband in August. Three days after the union’s announcement, the Civil Human Rights Front, the umbrella group behind many of Hong Kong’s largest protests, decided on August 13 it would also disband. Then on Monday, a source told the Post that leaders of the Hong Kong group that organised the annual vigil marking the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown had also decided to dissolve after a special meeting. The group, however, has yet to make an official announcement.