Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang said that it was brave of Chief Executive Carrie Lam to appoint Choi Yuk-lin as the education deputy, and brave of Choi to accept the appointment in the face of strong criticism.

In a Thursday newspaper column in am730, Tsang said that the display of courage was commendable: “Now, courage aside, we shall observe whether they are intelligent enough to handle the upcoming challenges.”

Jasper Tsang. Photo: Facebook/Jasper Tsang.

On Tuesday, the government announced the appointment of the pro-Beijing figure as the new education deputy. The decision came amid protests from the pro-democracy camp, with some 17,000 Hongkongers signing a petition opposing Choi’s appointment. It also sparked renewed fears over a push for patriotic education.

Addressing attacks on Choi that called her “biased” and thus unsuited for the position, Tsang said that public figures have clear stances towards controversial issues, and the yardstick for what constituted bias depended on different stances. Tsang questioned whether it was really “biased” if Choi pushed for national education as education deputy.

With regards to Choi’s political allegiance to the pro-establishment camp, Tsang called it “unavoidable and natural.”

“Among the capable individuals, only those who support the government would be willing to join the government… [or] invited to join the government,” Tsang said.

Choi Yuk-lin.

The former head of the legislature also said that one of the reasons Choi’s critics were opposed to her appointment was that she lost in the Legislative Council education constituency last year.

“Critics say that this means she does not have the support of the people, but everyone knows that in the past Legislative Council elections, the seat has always been in the hands of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union.” Tsang said that no one who challenged the seat has ever been able to pose an effective threat to the union’s candidate.

Tsang noted that Choi obtained the highest number and percentage of votes when compared to past challengers, and any fair observer would admit that she performed just as well as her opponent in the election forums. He also said that Choi’s failure to win a seat should be attributed to political forces and does not say anything about her ability.

Tsang added that there were many others who were appointed as government officials even after they lose an election, and a notable example was Hong Kong’s last governor, Chris Patten.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.