Tung Wah vows probe into teacher's death

Top News | Phoenix Un 11 Mar 2019

The principal of a Tin Shui Wai school is on sick leave from today - five days after a teacher who accused her of applying unnecessary pressure jumped to her death at the school.

The teacher, Lam Lai-tong, 48, was found dead after plunging from the sixth floor of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals' Leo Tung-hai Lee Primary School last Wednesday.

Her father and younger brother were at the school yesterday morning despite a heavy downpour to meet with Vinci Wong Yin-chi, chairman of the Tung Wah Group, and Herman Wai Ho-man, supervisor of the school.

The weeping father said school principal Law Yuen-yee had not contacted the family. But "I also do not want to see that principal," he said.

He also said before meeting Wong and Wai: "As a father, of course I want justice for my daughter."

Besides meeting with the teacher's family, Wong and Wai also met teachers of the school to understand more about the principal's daily work and behavior.

But it was understood that teachers had also received messages that "reminded" them it was not necessary for all teachers to return to school yesterday, and many were absent due to "fear of revenge."

Wong said after both meetings that he was shocked and saddened by the incident, and Law would be going on sick leave today.

"She won't show up at the school for a while," Wong said, and arrangements were being discussed with the Education Bureau.

He also said Tung Wah would set up an independent investigation committee to probe happenings at the school.

The panel would be made up of six or seven members from different sectors including retired Education Bureau officials, a medical specialist and a professor with a clinical psychology background.

Wong called for teachers as well to tell the committee what they knew. "They don't need to worry about any consequences for what they tell the committee," he said.

Teachers yesterday also had it confirmed by Tung Wah that on the eve of her death Lam went to the group's headquarters in Sheung Wan to file a complaint. She also applied to leave early from work last Tuesday.

Some teachers at yesterday's meeting accused Tung Wah of not taking Lam's complaint seriously. They also condemned Law for treating many other teachers badly.

Albert Su Yau-on, chief executive of Tung Wah, said Law took leave because she was emotionally unstable after Lam's death. There had also been an attempt yesterday to contact the principal, Su said, "but we couldn't." But two senior headmasters were able to contact her, he said.

Lam suffered with flu and took sick leave from February 26 to 28. Law had supposedly told Lam to be back to school on February 28 to report on textbook subsidy measures.

Law was also said to have made a heavy criticism of Lam and told her to submit a "repentance letter" four days later. That apparently led to Lam crying as she left the principal's office.

Then Law was said to be unhappy with a letter she received last Tuesday and scolded Lam fiercely about it, That reduced Lam to tears once again.

Lam left early that day, March 5, but told colleagues while on her way that Law wanted to force her to resign. Lam had then talked about suicide.

Early the next morning Lam, who was not carrying the key to her home or her usual lunch box, returned to the school in red clothes, went to the sixth floor and jumped.

Saddened teachers claim that Law told them later that "you should be able to get accustomed to it, and the school will operate as usual."

Tung Wah also held Taoist rituals at the school yesterday, with Lam's family and many other teachers and Wong present. Parents of some students also placed flowers on the fence of the school and bowed in tribute to Lam.

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