PTU damages the image of HK teachers: Carrie Lam

Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Monday accused the Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) of hijacking the education sector and leaving people with negative views of the city’s teachers.

Over the weekend the Education Bureau announced it was severing ties with the city’s biggest teachers’ union, after mainland state media accused the body of “fanning anti-China activities that mess up Hong Kong”.

The PTU is “a tumour that must be rooted out”, Xinhua and the People’s Daily said. But Lam said the media attack was not the reason why the bureau cut ties with the union.

“Every one can see” what the PTU did during the anti-government protests of 2019, as well as since then, she said.

“They made use of their political stance to override the professionalism of education, allowing political issues, anti-government, and anti-central government sentiments to enter our schools,” Lam claimed.

Lam said the PTU’s “hijacking” of the education sector wasn’t fair to teachers.

“We learned a major lesson over the extradition [bill] row. Thousands of students didn’t have the awareness to abide by the law. They took part in the protests, some even in the riots. Many teachers organised and took part, some were arrested, the CE said.

“So we’re determined to restore order from chaos.”

Asked by the media why she had attended the union’s 45th anniversary celebrations in 2018, Lam said that at the time, the PTU had the goal of bringing quality education to Hong Kong.

“But clearly, the PTU has deviated from such targets, and even violated the professionalism of educators,” she claimed.

Lam was also asked whether the government will move to outlaw the union, and she responded by saying that any such move would require a strong legal basis.

The Hong Kong leader said the government will continue to hear the voices of the education sector, not only through meetings with the smaller pro-Beijing Federation of Education Workers, but also through various school sponsoring bodies, headteacher groups and parent-teacher organisations.