Pro-democracy academic Joseph Cheng Yu-shek demoted by Hong Kong’s City University

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 May, 2015, 10:21am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 May, 2015, 5:33am

A pro-democracy academic at City University has vowed to appeal over the conduct of an investigation by the university that led to his demotion just three months before he was to retire.

Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, who is the convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy, said he expected to face pressure because of his political involvement, but he stopped short of accusing the university of punishing him for his activism.

Cheng said yesterday that the decision to demote him from a chair professor to a regular professor was made in March, after several months of investigation into allegations in July that he took the credit for his former research assistant's work in articles published in academic journals more than a decade ago.

He was also accused in August of copying an article written by his colleague Dr Jermain Lam Tak-man on the Occupy movement before the protests broke out.

"The [university] did not say I plagiarised, but said I did not use the highest standard" on the work in question, said Cheng, a scholar in the university's department of public policy. "I do not accept this decision as I think I have done nothing wrong."

He insisted he had listed all the sources, and he blamed a university procedure he described as irregular for the decision to demote him. But he did not elaborate because the complaint must be kept confidential.

"I have expected this kind of pressure because of my political involvement," Cheng said.

The alliance, an umbrella group of pan-democrats, put forward a three-track proposal to allow the public, political parties and the nominating committee to put forward candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.

A CityU spokeswoman said the two independent committees had completed their investigations and submitted reports to the university's disciplinary committee for follow-up action.

"The committee made a decision after a thorough review and informed the provost and Professor Cheng in early March about the decision," she said. "Following established practice, the university will not disclose details to protect individual privacy."

Cheng Man-lung, who worked for Joseph Cheng between September 2002 and January 2003, said in July his former boss inappropriately took lead-author credit on three articles published in 2003 and 2004.