As expected, Choi Yuk-lin, the former vice-chairperson of the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers (HKFEW) and principal of the Fukien Secondary School (Siu Sai Wan), was named the new undersecretary for education on Tuesday.
When Choi’s possible appointment as the deputy education chief surfaced in early July, it provoked a fierce backlash from the local education sector, mainly because of her strong pro-Beijing background.
It was the HKFEW under her leadership that spearheaded the national education curriculum back in 2012, which eventually led to mass protests against it outside the government headquarters in September that year.
This fact has sparked widespread concern among local educators over whether Choi will again press ahead with the highly controversial curriculum during her term of office.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has rarely sparked any major controversy in her choice of cabinet members, except in Choi’s case.
Now that her appointment has been confirmed despite strong opposition from the education sector, Choi might turn out to be a potential source of trouble in Carrie Lam’s cabinet and a top target for the pan-democrats in the days ahead.
It is said that Choi was the only candidate nominated by Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung for the job throughout the entire selection process, suggesting that the government was already determined to recruit her from day 1 no matter now unpopular she might be in the education sector.
However, while many are worried about Choi’s “ultra-left” background, Lo Man Tuen, deputy director of the committee on external affairs of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and board member of the Fukien Secondary School, suggested otherwise.
Lo said Choi is totally misunderstood by the public, noting that contrary to popular myth, she is in fact a seasoned and dedicated educator with an open mind.
Besides, he added, she was hired as principal of the Fukien Secondary School not because of her “red” background, but because of her competence, experience and qualifications, and he personally hadn’t heard of any massive effort made by the pro-establishment camp to secure her appointment as the deputy education chief. He also expressed deep regret over Choi’s departure from the school.
Perhaps only time will tell whether Choi is really an open-minded educator like Lo has insisted.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 2
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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