Sacked PolyU academic threatens legal action

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 3:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 4:31am

The recently sacked vice-president of Polytechnic University says she will not rule out the possibility of taking the institution to court for its "rash and harsh" act of terminating her tenure.

Judy Tsui Lam Sin-lai launched a counter-attack against PolyU a week after she was fired with immediate effect last Tuesday, amid claims that she had failed to declare external earnings of HK$1.85 million.

"[I feel] appalled and unjustly treated by PolyU's unreasonable termination," the accounting scholar said in a statement published in several Chinese- language broadsheets yesterday.

She threatened to apply for a judicial review of the decision. In response, PolyU said claims surrounding the termination were pure speculation and it retained the right to take legal action.

Tsui was previously vice-president for international and executive education. PolyU set up an independent panel of inquiry after an internal audit report said she had failed to declare HK$1.85 million to the institution, which required academics to surrender part of their outside income.

Tsui said she had never covered up her non-executive directorships of CLP and Shenzhen-listed China Vanke, both of which the university approved in 2005, though she had once neglected to seek fresh approval after CLP renewed her contract in 2009.

In that case, Tsui said, she filed the request and turned in a sum of money three years later. "The university's top officials did not point out that it was problematic at the time," she wrote.

Last night, CLP announced Tsui would be retired as a director in May, but stressed she was not at odds with the board.

Tsui wrote: "In 2012, PolyU had more than 450 cases of staff members failing to declare - or to declare punctually - [their interests] and to submit [part of their external] earnings on time, but not a single one has been sacked.

"PolyU has all along handled these cases leniently. So its decision to sack me … is directed at me and violates the rule of law."

The university's investigation into the claims made in the audit report was "unfair and lacked independence", Tsui said.

Dr Helena Wong Pik-wan, a lecturer at PolyU's general education centre, said there was no question that Tsui had violated the regulations despite her fierce arguments. "I'm not sure if other colleagues have also failed to declare their interests, but negligence is definitely not an excuse," the lawmaker said.