Vandalism spread to schools feared

Top News | Cindy Wan 10 Oct 2019

Protesters who vandalized a Tsuen Wan secondary school in the first incident involving a high school have been condemned by teachers' unions of both political sides.

The vandalism of Po Leung Kuk Yao Ling Sun College drew a statement from the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers opposing politics in schools, while the Professional Teachers' Union urged all sectors to stop protests targeting schools.

This came after about 50 black-clad protesters - claimed to be school alumni - gathered outside and vandalized the campus on Tuesday afternoon to protest at the school's alleged unfair handling of conflicts between students who hold different political opinions.

The school's management met some of the protesters inside the campus, but rejected meeting the rest outside.

The protesters, including some students in uniform, then threw eggs and rubbish bins at the school, destroyed the CCTV cameras and broke a glass door.

Students said the controversy emerged on Friday when several Secondary Five students tore material off a Lennon wall outside the school. One of them later found his picture pasted in a men's toilet.

Secondary Five schoolmates then injured a Secondary Three student who holds an opposite political view in a fist fight.

The teachers, however, detained the younger student and some of his classmates after school, and required parents to pick them up, prompting criticism that the school was shielding the senior students.

The protesters were also dissatisfied by a school statement released on Monday which described the fight as "pushing between students." They protested against unfair treatment before being dispersed by riot police.

In a statement yesterday, the Federation of Education Workers said: "The association expresses deep concern over campus politicization and requests the parties to stop disrupting the school's operation."

Xinhua News Agency joined the wave of condemnation yesterday, releasing a commentary to accuse the pro-democracy Professional Teachers' Union of bringing politics into schools.

The commentary accused the PTU's vice president, Ip Kin-yuen, of encouraging the spread of Hong Kong independence advocacy in secondary schools and the union of inciting class boycotts.

Ip yesterday urged protesters not to target schools.

"Schools are supposed to be safe and peaceful for students to study and teachers to teach," he said.

They are not places that resolve political conflicts and any attack at schools would be unwise, he said.

Ip said the PTU has never encouraged class boycotts as it has repeatedly appealed to students to stay away from confrontational scenes.

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