Fired consultant says complaints were 'dubious'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 4:07am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 4:07am

A consultant who spoke out over the government's decision on free-to-air TV licences yesterday cast suspicion on two complaints that led to her dismissal.

Jenny Ng Pui-ying, former managing partner at Value Partners, said the complaints were sent to her boss a day after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government would "follow up" on her comments.

After nine years in the job, Ng said she resigned in late January, although the company fired her in February.

"They fired me for the interviews I did, saying they had affected the company," she said yesterday in the first press conference since her dismissal.

Ng said that a day after the chief executive's comments, a person named Kenneth Fung sent an e-mail to her company's head office in Italy, claiming he was a business partner of the firm and that Ng's action had tarnished the company's image.

A month later, a person named Alex T. Pugh sent an e-mail to the head office, as well as to the partners of the office around the world, complaining about her conduct, she said.

"They are provocative complaints aimed at worsening the relationship between my company and me," she said.

"I don't know Kenneth Fung and never did business with him. As for Alex, I suspect that is a fake identity and that no such person exists."

The complaints came after Ng came out in November to say that the government had used a report from her consultancy as a shield against criticism of its decision not to grant a free-to-air television licence to Hong Kong Television Network.

She said it had quoted "a few paragraphs" from a 400-page report "out of context" in seeking to justify the awarding of licences only to applicants backed by pay-television players Now TV and Cable TV.

She said that, after the complaints, the company's CFO demanded an explanation from her, and the CEO did not take her calls. Believing there was a breakdown in trust, Ng said she resigned.

Things deteriorated further when Ng was asked to leave the office in the same month and was not given the chance to pack up.

Ng has said she will seek legal action against Value Partners, claiming compensation of HK$10 million - including two months of salary in lieu of notice, annual leave pay and company stock.

Still, she said she did not regret speaking out against the government. "A consultant is not a rubber stamp who says what a client wants us to say. We come up with research methods after the client throws us a question.

"The government wanted us to research the impact of issuing free-to-air TV licences on the market. It should not use the conclusion to make a decision on a different question [to select two winners out of three applicants]."

Value Partners said it would not comment on any "unsupported allegations". The Office of the Chief Executive stated that both the office and Leung did not get in touch with Value Partners.