Another Hong Kong Schoolteacher Attempted To Jump Off A Building

A few weeks ago, there was a major political issue in Hong Kong with respect to the educational reform in Hong Kong.  At the time, the Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower Fanny Law made an apparently heartless remark about how only two teachers had committed suicide possibly due to the increased work pressure as a result of the reform.

So what about this latest episode?  This schoolteacher did not kill himself and so this news item never made it into the English-language newspapers.  A reporter at an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong once told me that this type of story would never show unless (1) the death was particularly gruesome and/or (2) the subject was a rich and/or famous celebrity.  But did the English-only readers miss anything as a result?  Yes, the Chinese-language readers would find out that the teacher made an exhibition of himself, including urinating in front of the public.

But is that all there is?

The following is translated from a blog post at kalos kagathos.  I am in no position to say whether this is true or not.  But this is a radically different presentation and there are enough details that a real journalist can track down if necessary.

[in translation]

It is my habit to begin reading the newspapers in the middle of the night.  So by the time I found out that a teacher named Cheung Sai-mnig at the Leung Sing Tak elementary school in the Longping Estates (Yuen Long) attempted to jump off a building (plus urinating in public -- see Oriental Daily), it was already early morning on March 17.  Let us see what the official report says:

(Ming Pao, March 16)  Yesterday, 44-year-old teacher Cheung Sai-ming attempted to commit suicide.  After standing precariously on the roof of the school building for four hours, he was finally persuaded to return to a safe area and then sent to Tuen Mun Hospital for examination.  In the evening, he was still wrought with emotions when he was interviweed by our reporter.  He pointed out that after he complained to the Education Department that the school principal "hired only people close to himself," he became the target of retaliation in everything that he did, including reducing the number of classes to "eliminate dissident elements."  Therefore, he was very unhappy and stood on the roof to express his discontent.  He asked the Education Department to investigate this matter thoroughly: "Give justice to me as well as to education."

Cheung had been teaching at Leung Tak Sing Elementary School for nine years.  He has a son and a daughter with his wife.  He said that about some time ago, the school board of directors had received an anonymous letter of complaint about how Principal Chen and the Deputy-Principal "hired only people close to themselves and eliminated all dissidents."  After investigating, the school board decided to retain the two.  Cheung was very dissatisfied and wrote to the Department of Education and Manpower and its permanent secretary Fanny Law.  Cheung said that once Principal Chen learned about this, he began to "play retaliation": "He (Principal Chen) criticized me for more than ten times over minor problems.  He said that I did not do my job as a teacher.  He entered those matters into my record, and increased the pressure on me."  Furthermore, the school has been recently studying the reduction of classes and Cheung was concerned that someone wanted to eliminate his job.  He had been under stress: "I have fainted before and then sent to the hospital."  He also said that the principal did not give him any opportunity to improve his skills and he emphasized that this attempt to jump off the building was intended to be a powerful indictment: "Give justice to me as well as to education!"

According to Apple Daily, the school believes Cheung Sai-ming to be "a very professonal teacher."  Ha!  Could this possibly be dishonest?  Let me tell you a fact that no media will report: At the start of 2004, this "victim" Cheung Sai-kming was working in the library (of the Afternoon School) and got into an argument with a male colleague named Lam -- this person is an acquaintence of mine and he used to be the director of the library of the Morning School.  Cheung assaulted Lam, hitting him on the head and causing blood to come out.  Lam had to be sent to the hospital for treatment.  The Morning School Principal Law decided to preserve the good reputation of the school and forbade the assaulted teacher Lam from filing a police report or informing the press about the truth.  But the incident reached the press anyway, and principal Law scolded Lam.  How was teacher Cheung sanctioned?  I have no idea.  I only knew that he continued to work in the library up until today.

After the incident, teacher Lam had to continue to work in the same room with the man who had asaulted him and cost him to lose all his self-respect.  Lam became depressed and suffered mental problems, looking distracted and remaining speechless all day.  Eventually, Lam quit his job.  So the career of this good person was ruined by the "professional" teacher Cheung and "for the greater good" principal Law!  See, that's education!

What kind of person is this teacher Cheung?  He is reported to be a distant relative of the school chairman Leung Sing Tak, so he has nothing to fear even if he was derelict on his job.  He is the library director, but he told the school that he did not understand the computer book filing system, so that the books are chaotically filed in the library.  One day, the principal entered the library and found the books were scattered all over the floor, including one book with a dense wad of spittle on it!  According to other school news, he was once found reading pornographic publications in front of female teachers in the teachers' common room; he was browsing pornographic websites in the school library's computer; he slandered that a colleague was involved in an adulterous affair and had to get down on his knees to beg the other party not to sue him.  When teacher Lam was still at the school, Cheung was picking fights, such as saying to Lam one day for no apparent reason: "Let me give you twenty dollars so that you can hire a prostitute!"  Would a person like that jump off a building?

Of course, after this public incident, any ridiculous thing that he has ever done before will be erased.  Even if he defecates in public, the school would not dare to dismiss him.  He was obviously very "professional."  He knew how to ride the wave of the schoolteacher suicides to use the pressure from the media as well as the school's inclination to "not let scandals reach the outside" and "to downscale the incidents" to secure his own iron rice bowl. 

Was he successful?  I wouldn't know, but in the end I only want to tell you two things: First, I personally heard all the above "secrets" from people in the school.  In order to give justice to teacher Lam, who suffered from depression, I had to narrate this.  Second, if you only read the media reports, ha!, you may think that this is yet another "tragedy of the educational reform."

Upon being informed about this translated post, the kalos kagathos blogger wrote: "Let me acknowledge, on behalf of teacher Lam, ESWN's great service to show this story to the world. The principal of this school always aims at making a worldwide reputation, and now he has got what he wishes to some extent."

Related Link: 劍嘯博客江湖  Kalos Kagathos

至於東南西北網主宋以朗先生,把拙作翻成英文再公告天下,其實也和我同樣「大罪」。但宋先生這位博客江湖中的「獨孤求敗」 () ,又豈會害怕小人暗算呢?今日看了“You are what you read”,才知道宋先生喜歡溫瑞安,因為他的小說流露出一種源自真實人生,帶點英雄落難況味的傷感。 好人的確未必有好報,但勇者無懼的俠客精神是,我不要好人有好報,只要壞人有惡報就夠了。我姑且以劍仙門的「四大德規」作結: