Ge­nie in a Bot­tle

They wear Gucci, they have per­son­alised num­ber plates on their Lam­borgh­i­nis and they com­mand the kind of money nor­mally re­served for Euro­pean foot­ballers. Peter Shad­bolt ex­am­ines the wild world of Hong Kong’s celebrity tu­tors

Hong Kong Tatler - - Schools Guide | Celebrity Tutors -

el­come to the high-oc­tane world of Hong Kong’s celebrity tu­tors, where salaries of HK$80 mil­lion are not un­known, where teach­ers are in­un­dated with fan mail and where jeal­ous ri­val tu­tors some­times try to stab their col­leagues in the back—in front of their classes. With the stakes so high, it’s lit­tle won­der they’re march­ing into each other’s tu­to­rial rooms and tak­ing their com­peti­tors down a peg.

Wil­son Liu, a maths teacher at cram school King’s Glory Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, ex­plains that “vi­ciously at­tack­ing other tu­tors” in front of stu­dents is par for the course in the com­pet­i­tive world of af­ter-school tu­tor­ing. He says one col­league even ac­cused him of brib­ing tu­tor­ing cen­tre staff to boost his stu­dent head­count, in an in­dus­try where pop­u­lar­ity will make or break you. “If they re­peat these lies 10 times, stu­dents may be­lieve it,” says Liu. “I usu­ally choose to avoid [fights].”

Nat­u­rally, groom­ing their pub­lic im­age via bill­boards, bus hoard­ings and on so­cial me­dia is es­sen­tial. Celebrity English tu­tor Kelly Mok, a “tu­tor queen” at King’s Glory, posts pic­tures of her­self prepped and ready for a photo shoot. Her site at­tracts the kind of fawn­ing lan­guage no har­ried teacher in the pub­lic school sys­tem could ever hope to gar­ner. “Kelly, I re­ally think you have a good cam­era face,” says one breath­less fan on Mok’s site. “I no­tice that you are a lit­tle slim­mer than a few years ago. What have you done?”

Last Oc­to­ber, two of Hong Kong’s top cram schools—home to the “tu­tor kings and queens” of the in­dus­try—went pub­lic in their war for top celebrity tu­tor Lam Yat-yan, a 28-year-old Chi­nese lan­guage teacher with close-cut suits and K-pop good looks. Mod­ern Ed­u­ca­tion pub­lished an open let­ter in a news­pa­per of­fer­ing him HK$85 mil­lion if he jumped ship from ri­val Bea­con Group and boosted its en­rol­ment by 25,000. With 10,000 stu­dents to his name, YY Lam, as he is known to an ador­ing stu­dent body, is be­lieved to have gen­er­ated as

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