The prominent Hong Kong educational charity Po Leung Kuk has terminated its contract with a service provider over its controversial leadership training camp which stands accused of abusing students.

The camp was recently hit with allegations of physical and verbal abuse, including claims of forcing students to eat grass and denying them water after exercise.

A passing-out ceremony of a PLK training camp. Photo: Po Leung Kuk Tong Nai Kan Junior Secondary College.

Camps have been organised by the Navigator Training Centre Limited on behalf of Po Leung Kuk since 2006.

In a statement issued on Thursday , the Po Leung Kuk said the camp’s goal was to improve leadership skills of students beyond the academic field.

“To improve the service and achieve better training effects, our training camp select advisory board has launched a three-month full review of the service, and we have terminated our contract with ‘Navigator Training Centre Limited,’ the original service provider,” it read.

Apple Daily cited sources at the board as saying that the camp has to progress with time and stop focusing on discipline training, and that it should take care of differences between individual students.

Established in 2006, the camp claims to help students develop their potential, improve their teamwork abilities and become braver, by organising physical activities in the rural New Territories. It has faced accusations of employing harsh training methods in the past.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law had called for an end to the “ridiculous” training practices.

“To completely destroy the self-confidence and self-respect of students, and to establish discipline and obedience from the ashes, is an extremely, extremely, outdated training practice,” he said. “It leaves deep scars upon children.”

The police had said they have been investigating abuse allegations following complaints.

They received a report of suspected sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl by her instructor at a camp near Tai Mong Tsai Road in Sai Kung on March 25 last year. The police arrested a 25-year-old man in connection with the incident but he was released while the investigation continues.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.