Dean tells why he decided to quit

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2012, 12:00am


The dean of Baptist University's School of Communication, embroiled in a row over the premature release of opinion poll results on the chief executive election, said he hoped his resignation would end a 'power struggle'.

Professor Zhao Xinshu also accused the media of harassing his family - hurting 'innocent people', in a letter released last night by the university's public affairs department. He reiterated that he had not been under any political pressure when he decided to publish the survey results prematurely.

'Reporters wait outside my apartment complex day and night, weekdays and weekends, bothering my neighbours. Several of them claimed to be delivery men, forcing their way into my apartment, harassing my family even when I was not home,' he said in the resignation letter, which he submitted on Friday.

'What started as a concern for democracy and academic freedom in Hong Kong has evolved into a power struggle within office. I hope my resignation will help to end all this.'

Zhao said some of his colleagues, unrelated to the survey, had been 'personally attacked' in the media in the past few days and he was concerned 'more and more ... innocent people will be attacked'.

But one of Zhao's colleagues said he knew nothing of any power struggle at the university and urged Zhao to explain what he meant by the term.

'It's a very generic term. He should explain it clearly in public. All he's saying now is that he hasn't done anything wrong,' said To Yiu-ming, a spokesman for the university's faculty and staff union and a teacher at the School of Communication.

'Who can struggle with him? He holds all the power.'

Zhao said speculation that he released the survey result prematurely under political pressure was unsubstantiated, because no one would have known the final result would be less favourable to Henry Tang Ying-yen.

He said the sample size for the early release, 836, was 'reasonably large ... larger than many polls in Hong Kong today'. He added: 'I never put my hands on the raw data. So I or anyone who might have exercised pressure could not have compared the weighted results with the unweighted results, and chosen one favouring one candidate.'

But Zhao said he would have handled the matter differently if he 'had known better'.

'I should have stopped releasing the poll results on January 13 after one of my staff received the phone call from Henry Tang's office, not because it was a premature or early release, but because it would raise suspicion, as it did.' He said he took full responsibility for the misjudgment.

Meanwhile, Zhao could face an Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into allegations from some teaching staff that he spent university money to buy equipment that was not used by the institution. University president Professor Albert Chan Sun-chi said it would look into the allegations.