New panel 'must probe poll scandal'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2012, 12:00am


Pan-democratic chief executive candidate Albert Ho Chun-yan yesterday called for an independent panel to be set up to continue probing the Baptist University poll scandal.

A report released by a four-strong panel on Monday after a nine-day investigation could not answer how rival candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen's campaign communications adviser knew of the survey hours before its official release and how the results came to be published exclusively by Sing Tao Daily.

Professor Zhao Xinshu, who headed the HongCOMM Survey Lab that conducted the poll, has resigned from it and as dean of the school of communications on Monday, but he remains on the teaching staff. His contract ends in August.

Ho criticised the recent investigation report as sloppy and suggested that retired chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang could be one of the suitable candidates for a new panel.

'The report was hasty ... and tried to cover up the truth,' Ho said. An independent investigation could 'give a just account to the public' instead.

Ho urged Tang to make public his camp's record of communications between last October and this January with the university.

He also expressed worries that the recent poll saga might affect confidence in the public vote on March 23 - two days before the real election - to be held by the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme.

Democratic lawmaker Lee Wing-tat said he might raise the matter in a Legislative Council meeting in two weeks, to urge the government to set up an independent panel.

Meanwhile, Tang denied he had talked about the poll with the Baptist University president, Professor Albert Chan Sun-chi, after a newspaper published a photo yesterday showing them shaking hands outside Chan's home in October.

Tang said he was attending a regular dinner meeting with eight university principals to talk about matters dealing with their institutions.

Baptist alumnus Kwan Wai, a member of the investigation panel, said on Tuesday that there was no need to further investigate why Sing Tao Daily was able to report on the survey exclusively because news sources should be protected.

A spokesman for Baptist University said this was Kwan's personal opinion and the university had not yet decided if it would start an independent investigation.

He also denied the university had offered to renew Zhao's contract before or after the release of investigation report, as suggested by another newspaper.