Education Under Political Pressure: A Ground We Must Stand – Ip Kin-yuen

It has been an unprecedented year for the education sector in Hong Kong. Since the anti-extradition bill movement, the education sector has been facing continuous attacks from the government and the pro-establishment camp. White terror has spread among our sector, and political pressure is seen everywhere on campus. IP Kin-yuen, who has served as Member of the Legislative Council for the education constituency since 2012, said Hong Kong is facing the greatest challenge he has even seen. Even in this difficult era, he is not going to step back. He is running for re-election in the 2020 Legislative Council Election, and he is determined to serve and protect the education sector, and to resist the tremendous political pressure from the government.

Academic Freedom is a Shield to Resist White Terror

IP said, as an educator, we need to treasure academic freedom. From the experience in 2007 where he almost fell victim to political intervention. Back then, he was a lecturer in the then Hong Kong Institute of Education (currently the Education University of Hong Kong), the then-Permanent Secretary for Education Fanny LAW called upon senior official of the Institute, and requested the Institute to sack IP, or to deny him for any further promotion. It raised huge concerns over the public, as some suspected LAW’s request is a pure political move. An independent commission of inquiry was appointed to ease public concerns. The commission concluded that LAW had inappropriately influenced the Institute, and she had eventually stepped down from her position in government.

Political atmosphere has aggravated tremendously today. Many parties, such as the government and pro-establishment camp, are eager to manipulate the education sector. Academics were threaten when their views were not in line with the government, especially when the Chief Executive is still the Chancellor of all publicly-funded universities. Under the current climate of white terror, the pressure faced by academics is higher than ever. To overcome this, IP said academic freedom is an important shield to resist these political pressures, and that is why he has and will continue to safeguard academic freedom. He said he would make every endeavor to make sure no academics in Hong Kong would be penalized solely because of their political views or research works, that was what the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union did when he was under attack in 2007.

Fight for the Higher Education Sector in the LegCo

During his time serving in the Legislative Council, he has been actively fought for the education sector, and one of his focused areas is higher education.

In 2017, IP has noticed that due to the reduction in investment return, the grant from the research endowment fund has been limited. He met with officials from the Research Grant Council, and after that he strongly urged the government to inject at least $10 billion to the research endowment fund, to compensate the reduction in investment return. After a series of lobbying, Carrie LAM has announced a $20 billion injection to the research endowment fund.

On the other hand, many universities face shortfalls in student dormitory. IP has openly appealed to the government, he believed the government should subsidize the universities to make sure they have enough dormitory for all students in needs. IP met with the Secretary for Education and followed up on this issue, and the government established a “Hostel Development Fund” which holds more than $1 billion for hostel construction.

The Most Memorable: PolyU Incident

When asked what was the most memorable incident that he has encountered in the past four years, he said it would be the PolyU incident. During the anti-extradition movement, protestors were locked in the PolyU by the police, and many of them were students, some were even under 18 years old. The reaction of the police force has intensified the situation, some even described that was a humanitarian disaster.

At that time, IP had growing concerns over the situation, he had a meeting with over 30 secondary school principals, after which they together held a press conference to express their wish that the incident could end peacefully. They headed to PolyU immediately afterwards. Eventually, they successfully made a deal with the government which they could enter the campus and accompany their students who were under 18 to leave safely. In the days after, IP had  repeatedly entered the PolyU campus, and helped over 300 secondary school students and 50 voluntary first aid personnel to leave the campus peacefully.

IP says the interests of students and the education sector are always at his top priority. He says Hong Kong is in a turbulent period, and almost everything in the future is uncertain, “but I am certain that I will do whatever I can to protect our students and teachers, we have no choice but to stand and fight”.


 

PTU Executive Committee Unanimously Recommends Vice-President Ip Kin-Yuen for LegCo Election 2020

 

The education sector has been under suppression in the past few years, which means it is now more important than ever to safeguard our education profession. President of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) Fung Wai-wah said Vice-President Ip Kin-yuen has shown tremendous determination and prudence while safeguarding the profession of education and speaking up for education professionals during his eight years of time in the Legislative Council. He hopes that all voters in the education sector will support Ip, who is unanimously recommended by the PTU Executive Committee to run for election again in 2020.

PTU Executive Committee has conveyed a 28-day audio survey among its members since 15th April, where they collected members’ opinions on recommending Ip, PTU Vice-President and current education sector lawmaker, to represent the PTU in running for the Legislative Council election 2020. A total of 5,783 members responded to the audio survey, totaling a response rate of 16.17 per cent. Taking away responses of ‘No comment’ and invalid answers, 86 per cent of respondents agreed while 14 per cent objected. The Executive Committee thus officially resolved that Ip will be appointed to run for the functional constituency seat in the Legislative Council election 2020.

The PTU is currently conducting a consultation on Ip’s election manifesto and all members are invited to contribute. Please email your ideas and feedback to [email protected].

PTU Executive Committee, 24th Term of Office