Singapore — The National University of Singapore (NUS) issued a statement on Tuesday (Nov 17) regarding the complaint of a staff member against a professor who resigned recently after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced on Twitter.
Professor Zheng Yongnian tendered his resignation as director at the NUS East Asian Institute (EAI) following accusations of sexual harassment on social media in August. In September, Prof Zheng went on leave until the end of his contract later that month.
On Aug 7, a Twitter user known as Charlotte (@Chary19513), who identified herself as a “current staff at East Asian Institute”, wrote a thread saying she had been sexually harassed by Prof Zheng two years ago.
The EAI said at that point that the matter was under internal investigation but that the police investigation into the harassment of the accuser’s colleagues had been completed.
In its Nov 17 statement, the EAI wrote that the staff member had filed a police report against Prof Zheng alleging outrage of modesty in May 2019 and that the professor had been issued a stern warning the following month by the police, after consultations with the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Prof Zheng was asked by NUS to work from home and given a No-Contact Order while the university conducted its internal investigation.
NUS wrote: “After due consideration of the COI’s report, the university has determined that Prof Zheng, who held a supervisory role in EAI, had given a fellow staff member a hug without her consent during a work meeting, and this behaviour was inappropriate in a professional setting. This is a breach of the NUS Code of Conduct for Staff and the appropriate sanction for this breach is a written warning.”
As the professor has left, NUS has recorded the outcome of its internal review in its staff records.
The university added that both Prof Zheng and the staff member were informed of the outcome of the investigation and that the staff member had received assistance and support from NUS.
“Chary” tweeted about the matter on Nov 17, expressing her disappointment with the outcome.
NUS is trying to blur the boundaries of “sexual harassment” and “inappropriate behavior”. This is not “inappropriate behavior”, it is illegal. NUS is using “inappropriate behavior“ to protect the sexual harasser – and the power abuser!
— Chary (@Chary19513) November 17, 2020
Prof Zheng, 58, also writes for the website ThinkChina. He is a respected political scientist and commentator on China’s transformation and its external relations. He is also an editor for Zaobao in Singapore and Xinbao in China.
Prof Zheng served as the director of the EAI from 2008 to 2019. After stepping down as director, he stayed on as a research professor, telling The Straits Times that he had resigned so that he could continue with his passion of scholarly research.
According to the South China Morning Post, for which he is a contributor as well, he now helms global and contemporary China studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. /TISG