Hong Kong teachers demand apology from Carrie Lam after ‘insulting’ Liberal Studies comments

  • In an interview with pro-Beijing newspaper ‘Ta Kung Pao’, the city’s chief executive suggested educators are spreading biased misinformation
  • Teachers’ union representatives defended their members, saying the subject encouraged tolerance, and didn’t incite students to join protests
Wong Tsui-kaiSCMP Reporters |

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Anti-government protesters stage a rally at a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China May 10.

After Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor promised to “fix” the liberal studies curriculum, teachers fired back, calling her comments “insulting”.

In an interview with Ta Kung Pao, a local pro-Beijing newspaper, Lam compared Hong Kong education to “an uncovered chicken coop” – in other words, open to influence from outside – and said liberal studies and some other subjects had been “infiltrated”, meaning people could spread biased, false information in lessons.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen disagreed with Lam’s comments, saying most teachers and principals were dedicated and professional.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam promises to 'fix' HKDSE liberal studies syllabus this year

“This is an insult to the education sector. I strongly urge Lam to retract her comments and apologise to teachers,” said Ip, vice-president of the 100,000-member pro-democracy Professional Teachers’ Union.

Lau Kam-fai, president of Hong Kong Liberal Studies Teachers’ Association, said the subject already had measures in place to ensure content was not biased, including discussions and review of teaching materials among teachers.

“The Education Bureau also has an inspection mechanism which will look at the situation at different schools and discuss with them how to improve,” Lau said.

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“I don’t believe liberal studies has [incited pupils] to join protests … students are taught to listen to different opinions and show others respect and tolerance.”

A bureau spokeswoman said on Monday there had been much concern from different bodies over liberal studies content, teaching materials and assessment methods. She said the bureau would announce more concrete ways for the subject to move forward based on suggestions from the task force as well as from members of the public.

Lam did not reply on Tuesday when questioned about the promised changes, nor did she provide proof for her claims teachers are “poisoning” students.

However, she insisted that the subject will be reviewed.