Editor of 'academically questionable' Blue Book sacked by Baptist University

Panel finds author of controversial Blue Book showed 'little regard for academic quality'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2012, 7:26am

Baptist University yesterday sacked Professor Victor Sit Fung-shuen from presiding over a China studies centre after it found he had covered up his authoring of an "academically questionable" research book.

It is understood that Sit's professorship will not be extended upon expiry in August.

The don put down colleagues' names as the writers of the Blue Book of Hong Kong without their permission and refused to acknowledge authorship of a statement attacking another university, an investigative panel set up by the university found.

The decision to fire Sit is one of the most high-profile punishments for a local academic, in an incident that has dealt a second blow this year to Baptist University's reputation after a polling scandal during the chief executive election.

The book was funded by a Beijing-loyalist businessman and co-published by a mainland body, the Social Sciences Academic Press. It came out in June, professing to report on Hong Kong's development in the 15 years since the handover.

It alleges that Chinese University's general education programme is "influenced by a US foundation".

"The academic standard of the Blue Book itself is questionable," the panel said. "[Sit] compiled the publications with little regard for academic quality."

The panel also said: "The investigation concludes that Professor Sit wilfully intended to promote ill-conceived information as scholarship."

It ruled that his claim about Chinese University was unfounded. "It would not be possible for a single external party to influence, let alone dominate, the curriculum design and implementation."

Baptist University vice-chancellor Professor Albert Chan Sun-chi accepted the panel's recommendation to remove Sit from chairing the Advanced Institute for Contemporary China Studies. Chan also expressed his school's "sincerest apology" to Chinese University.

The panel found Sit listed two people on the editorial board of the Chinese version as authors on the cover of the English version, but "both indicated [to us] that they were reluctant to be named. One had strongly remonstrated with Professor Sit … and subsequently resigned from the institute."

In the Chinese version, Sit identified himself as "chief editor" instead of author. "He skilfully tried to shift responsibility to his subordinates and to the publisher who … were not at fault."

Sit could not be reached last night for comment.