Date
13 December 2017
(From left) Peter Koon, provincial secretary general of ‪Hong Kong‬ ‎Anglican‬ Church; John Tong Hon, Chinese Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church; and Allan Chiang, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. Photos: Internet
(From left) Peter Koon, provincial secretary general of ‪Hong Kong‬ ‎Anglican‬ Church; John Tong Hon, Chinese Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church; and Allan Chiang, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. Photos: Internet

School whistleblowers risk breaking law, privacy chief warns

Whistleblowers who report students planning to boycott classes face the risk of breaking the law, according to Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner, Commercial Radio Hong Kong reported.

Privacy Commissioner Allan Chiang Yam-wang said anyone who discloses personal information of students, such as their name, class number and school, without getting their permission beforehand risk violating the Privacy Ordinance.

The Alliance for Peace and Democracy, a group that is opposed to Occupy Central, has set up a hotline to encourage the public to report students or teachers who are organizing class boycotts to oppose Beijing’s electoral reform framework for the 2017 chief executive election.

Chiang said his office has received around 70 complaints and inquiries about the hotline. He stressed that people who disclose such personal information must ask for the permission of the person concerned in advance.

Students who suspect that they have been reported to the hotline have the right to check if their information was in the group’s database and the alliance has to reply within 40 days, Chiang added.

Peter Koon Ho-ming, secretary-general of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, said the church’s schools should not be turned into a political arena. Neither the student activists nor those opposed to class boycotts should disclose the name of the school to exert pressure on the institution, he said.

Students of the 30 schools affiliated with Sheng Kung Hui are also prohibited from wearing yellow ribbons that signify support for universal suffrage or the pan-democratic camp, Koon said.

During break time, students are allowed to discuss the issue of student strikes, but school administrators should remind students and their parents of the consequences of such action, he added.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong has released a guidance to its 20 affiliated secondary schools, saying they should respect the “personal choice” of teachers and students.

It also said schools should not impose any penalties on those who join class boycotts if they make such the decision sensibly and voluntarily with the permission of their parents.

“Schools should provide appropriate arrangements for students who choose to boycott classes, and offer them help and guidance,” the diocese said in its guidance, adding that they discourage primary and secondary students from getting involved in political movements.

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JZ/MY/CG

Freelance journalist

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