Li & Fung

Ousted school founder attacks governors

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2011, 12:00am


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One of the three founders of the exclusive Chinese International School who was removed from its charitable foundation in a boardroom coup is demanding that she be reinstated, along with the other 25 people dismissed with her.

Speaking out for the first time since the coup, Nelly Fung said the decision came out of the blue in a letter from the board last October. It meant only board members could serve on the foundation, which is the school's legal sponsoring body, registered under the charities ordinance.

Fung said: 'This was done without the common courtesy of consulting members who had devoted so much time, energy and money to the school and foundation.

'Without their support, the school would not exist today. There is a Chinese saying, 'When you drink water, remember its source.''

At the heart of the issue is a battle for control of the school. The dismissed foundation members claim they acted as overseers of the board of governors, while the board say its members have the final say.

Fung helped establish the school in 1983. She retired from the board in 2003.

Since last October's letter, she has had no formal response to her requests for a formal discussion with the board and her reinstatement.

Both governors and former foundation members have spoken to their lawyers about whether the dismissals were legal.

It had been the norm for former governors, to be retained as foundation members, raising funds and voting at general meetings. Fung said some were more active than others.

Her two co-founders of the school, Joyce Tai and Kin Yue-fu, are on the current board of governors.

Fung compared the board of governors to a company's board of directors. They oversee the senior management who do the day-to-day work but are beholden to their shareholders - which in this case, she says, would be the foundation members.

Fung questioned the accountability of a board of governors without the foundation members. 'Is it correct for a foundation such as this one, which is also a registered charity, to be accountable only to its own board members? There's no transparency. There's no oversight.'

Other members given the boot include Victor Fung Kwok-king of Li & Fung, former chairwoman of the English Schools Foundation Professor Felice Lieh Mak and ex-chief secretary David Akers-Jones.

Geoffrey Mansfield, current chairman of the board, wrote to the Post last Saturday, saying that the move was legal, and many of those dismissed no longer participated in running the school.

He said the numbers of retired governors who remained foundation members had grown to a size where 'it was appropriate to remove any confusion as regards those responsible for the governance of the school'.