Interview with Defiant Teacher Raymond Yeung: Fear Not, Teachers

PTU News Reporter

As social movements sparked by the extradition law amendment bill and police brutality persist, 80 teachers and teaching assistants have been arrested over the past six months. Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung claimed teachers who were found guilty of professional misconduct would be severely punished, causing White Terror to spread in the education sector.

Raymond Yeung, the teacher who was shot in the eye by the police on 12th June 2019 and accused of rioting, has recovered from the injury and trauma with support from the society. Fearless of the arrest, he has returned to work.

No Regrets in Standing Up for Conscience                   

Reminiscing 12th June, Yeung said his sole motivation in joining the lawful and peaceful protest was to safeguard the last defensive line of rule of law in Hong Kong by stopping the extradition law amendment bill to pass. ‘I participated in the million-people march on 9th June, hoping the government would listen to the people. Yet, the government announced on the same night it would proceed with the second reading. That’s why I was at the protest in Admiralty on 12th June.’ The police fired shots without any warning at a peaceful protest. Yeung was shot in the right eye and charged with rioting. When asked if he regretted taking to the streets, he said firmly, ‘It had, of course, never crossed my mind that I would be so seriously injured, but I have no regrets because I am certain I am doing the right thing.’

Remaining Professional in Teaching Liberal Studies

The education sector is under constant attack and Liberal Studies has become a target. Pro-establishment individuals and official media accuse pro-democracy teachers of instilling wrong ideas in children and Liberal Studies of poisoning students. As a Liberal Studies teacher, Yeung said his teaching has always upheld the principles of Liberal Studies – remaining neutral, informing students of all perspectives, and guiding students to develop and utilize their critical thinking and analytical skills.

‘Sometimes we have role plays where I take the roles of police officers or government individuals and inform students why certain decisions were made from their perspectives,’ said Yeung, taking the recent protests as an example. He added that the responsibility of Liberal Studies teachers is to help students see the whole picture and avoid partiality. Therefore, regardless of personal political stance, teachers will always remain professional and neutral in teaching.

White Terror and Its Injustice

Yeung said the Education Bureau’s claim to hold teachers who have violated regulations accountable was unfair. The police have been abusing their power and making unreasonable arrests without sufficient evidence only to deter citizens. In Yeung’s instance, he was charged with rioting, but has successfully refused bail. If arrests become a legitimate reason for suspension, not only would involved teachers be affected, but also students’ progress and other teachers’ workload. As employers, schools should reserve the right to handle such matters on their own and according to the situation at schools. On the other hand, it is inevitable that teachers’ remarks made on social media platforms are visible to students and parents, but as long as it is not the teachers’ intention to influence students’ judgment with partial views, speech crime should not be used against teachers.

‘Fear not, teachers’

The movement has developed into a standoff. Victory can only be achieved by collective efforts of the society. Yeung said he would not resort to hatred because he lost his right eye’s eyesight. He plans to raise a legal plaint against the police and use his case in court to review the police’s criteria in using force, hoping to drive the movement into a more positive direction with his injury. He counts himself lucky as he has received support and legal aid from the society all along. Openly expressing his opinion might bring about more relentless suppression, but he firmly believes that facing the public would only yield more support. ‘Injuries are already reality, but the way we see them can be changed. Our injuries are the price we pay for democracy and a governing body that listens.’ Understanding that everyone is contributing to a mutual goal in their own ways is a relief to his injury. He also hopes to encourage his comrades who have been hurt physically and mentally with his story and remind them that they are not alone.

Tips for Teachers

If you are under investigation on grounds of professional misconduct

If you are informed that complaints have been filed against you by your school or the Education Bureau and you have been required to respond, you have the right to consult before making a response. Please contact the PTU Rights & Complaints Department. (Telephone: 2780-7337/ WhatsApp: 9763-0537)

If you are arrested

Please remain silent. Do not share information of your school with the police even if they threaten to contact your employer.