Schools are no place for political propaganda, Hong Kong’s education chief has said in response to reports that a teacher was suspended from class duties by his school after he distributed copies of Apple Daily newspaper to colleagues.

The teacher from an unidentified school in Tin Shui Wai was reported by other teachers to the school’s management after he bought 10 copies of Apple Daily and gave them out to colleagues, Stand News reported last week.

On Thursday the pro-democracy paper shut down after 26 years following the arrest of senior staff, a police raid and the freezing of its bank accounts.

‘Malicious intent’

The school judged that he acted out of “malicious intent” and suspended him from class duties, the online news outlet reported.

After the teacher reportedly refused to retrieve the copies of the newspaper he had handed out, he was asked to file an “incident report” to the school, the online news outlet reported.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung responded to a question about the incident from pro-establishment lawmaker Steven Ho in the legislature on Wednesday.

“I think there are lots of asymptomatic political virus carriers in the education sector. They don’t feel they are doing anything wrong but are spreading the virus unconsciously,” Ho said.

Steven Ho. Photo: LegCo screenshot.

The education chief said the government would not discuss individual cases but it had followed up with the school over the incident.

“The EDB’s [Education Bureau’s] obvious position is that acts of political propaganda must not take place in schools,” Yeung said. “We have asked the school to take appropriate action in accordance with our guidelines.”

File Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Some 500 police last week raided the offices of Apple Daily after arresting five executives for alleged violations of the national security law through the publication of some 30 articles. Two of the five, Next Digital’s CEO Cheung Kim-hung and Apple Daily Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law, have been charged and remanded in custody pending trial.

Also awaiting trial on national security grounds is the paper’s founder Jimmy Lai, 73, who has been in custody since last year. An editorial writer at the paper was also arrested this week.

Security chief John Lee warned the public following the raid on June 17 not to associate with those arrested but refused to clarify whether sharing Apple Daily’s content would be against the law.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.