Student groups called on Confucius Hall Secondary School to allow one of its teachers to start work again. He had been suspended for sharing an acrostic poem targeting the police on social media.
Teacher Ho Pak-yan was demoted from the post of acting vice-principal and suspended for the time being after sharing the poem on his private Facebook account on February 22. The poem had an underlying meaning of mocking an officer’s coronavirus infection.
The Student Human Rights Front published a statement on its Instagram account last Thursday condemning the school’s management committee for violating freedom of speech.
“The school has a noble vision to ‘rekindle the Confucius torches to shine through the dark world in these degenerating years’ and ‘to nourish the students’ civil hearts and unfurl their talents’,” the statement read.
“By suspending Ho of his duties, the school authority of Confucius Hall Secondary School has failed to set a proper example for students.”
The statement said the suspension of his duties was invalid because he had shown his political stance in a private setting.
The group also quoted Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, saying that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. They pointed out that Ho’s privacy had been infringed.
The Anti White Terror Concern Group formed by the school’s students also released a statement last Monday urging the school to lift Ho’s suspension and allow him to teach.
Last Thursday, however, a group of self-proclaimed “Tsuen Wan community members”, comprising a dozen people, gathered at the office of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) in Mong Kok. They were protesting against the union for protecting Ho who had “ruined social conduct by insulting the police on social media”.
The PTU and the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers had both urged the school to investigate the teacher’s case in a fair and just manner. The PTU added it could provide help to Ho, depending on his needs.
The school, in Causeway Bay, said an investigation task force had been set up to look into Ho’s case.
In the Cantonese poem Ho put out, the first word of each line spelt out as “black cops, hope your whole family dies and not one member less”.
But if read from line to line, it said, “Being blackhearted is not such a good thing, cops are just doing their jobs”, and “whole community should come together and fight the epidemic as the most effective thing to do, family’s support is also very important”.
School head Yeung Wing-hon told SCMP that the teacher had mistakenly shared the poem without realising the acrostic elements in it, and had immediately deleted the post once he had been notified of the problem.
On February 20, a riot police officer contracted Covid-19 for the first time and more than 50 others who attended a recent banquet with him were placed under quarantine.