Calls grow louder to ban 'radical' PTU

Top News | Carine Chow 2 Aug 2021

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union should be banned as it has provided many discounts through promotions and welfare to members to lure them into supporting an anti-China stance, says Executive Councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.

The Education Bureau announced on Saturday it was cutting ties with the PTU, the city's biggest teachers' association, and that it will no longer regard the 95,000-member union as a professional education body.

The bureau's action came hours after state media Xinhua News Agency and People's Daily published articles slamming the PTU as a "poisonous tumor" that must be eliminated.

Ip, a lawmaker and chair of the pro-establishment New People's Party, said on Facebook yesterday that the PTU "has been using many benefits and perks to attract a large number of teachers to become their members, luring them to follow the union's radical stance."

She said authorities should ban the PTU, which has been greedy and repeatedly asked the government for resources, but failed to upgrade teachers' standards.

"Based on the reports of language proficiency assessment for teachers we see all the time, teachers' English and Putonghua levels have not improved in many years," Ip said. "This is very disappointing."

The government has increased its funding on overall education in 2021-22 to more than HK$110 billion, up by 40 percent from HK$78.06 billion in 2017-18, Ip said. She added the PTU had withdrawn from controversial parties, including the Civil Human Rights Front and Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, in March and July, but insisted: "The biggest problem is that PTU has a strong political stance.

"It uses the new senior secondary academic structure, particularly liberal studies, to spread speeches that smear the country in lessons."

Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying also criticized the PTU. In a Facebook post entitled "PTU's temptation," Leung put two photos of the union offering discounts on home appliances for members. "PTU is wealthy and powerful. Its consumer goods are cheaper than other stores in Hong Kong," he said.

Leung also posted several photos of the union taking part in protests and supporting the teaching boycott, adding it is a political organization based on the nature of its activities.

"I hope members of PTU can clearly state that they have joined a teachers' association, and not a political organization," he said, adding members should state that they do not support PTU's political stance and tactics.

Lau Siu-kai, vice president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said yesterday it is not something new for the central government to be "discontented with the PTU."

He said authorities should probe whether the PTU has violated the national security law or any other law through its finances and operation.

An Education Bureau spokesman said after cutting ties with the union: "The remarks and deeds of the PTU in recent years are invariably inconsistent with what is expected of the education profession, rendering it no different from a political body in essence."

The bureau will no longer hold meetings with the union, or consult the union on education-related issues.

The PTU said it was disappointed with the bureau's "pitiful decision."

It is a loss for the industry that authorities have decided to sever ties with the PTU, it said, adding it will nevertheless continue its work as a teachers' union.

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