Inquiry into controversial poll was 'unprofessional'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2012, 12:00am


A closed-door investigation into a Baptist University popularity poll on chief-executive candidates was 'unprofessional', employees and students said, and involved only a few general questions.

Some 760 students and alumni signed a petition, published in the Apple Daily and the Sharp Daily yesterday, demanding a fair and open investigation into the incident, one that includes representatives from the student body and the staff union.

They also called for Professor Zhao Xinshu, dean of the School of Communication, to be suspended for releasing data from the survey before it was officially completed. Zhao had earlier apologised and denied the move was politically motivated.

The university had set up a five-strong team, comprising four members of the teaching staff and one alumnus, to investigate the incident and verify the poll data. The group began interviewing people in the office of Professor Rick Wong Wai-kwok, who headed the group, on Monday. They also met: Professor Steve Guo Zhongshi, head of the department of journalism and also a member of the HongCOMM Survey Lab, which conducted the survey; Way Chan Kui-wai, manager of the lab; Professor Emilie Yeh Yueh-yu, another lab member; and associate dean Professor Ringo Ma.

But a person familiar with the investigation said the questions asked were 'very general and simple', and each person was interviewed for only 30 minutes.

'They asked about one's role and duty in the lab, and one's opinion about the incident,' the source said. He described the atmosphere as 'friendly', with all parties colleagues.

Zhao suddenly took seven days of leave beginning on Monday. It was not known if he had attended the hearing. However, he returned to school on Monday to briefly attend a department meeting, despite being on leave.

To Yiu-ming, a spokesman for the faculty and staff union, said the investigation was unprofessional, and should involve independent legal professionals.

A university spokeswoman refused to say why Zhao had taken leave and would not give details of the investigation. She said the group would look into the poll incident fairly and report on it this month.