HKU Vice-Chancellor Zhang Xiang exonerated of misconduct, denounces malicious accusations in vindicated statement

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Zhang Xiang

13th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Council of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has accepted a report submitted by a dedicated task force, clearing President and Vice-Chancellor Zhang Xiang of misconduct allegations made by an anonymous whistleblower. The investigation found insufficient evidence to substantiate the claims, which had thrust the university into a significant administrative controversy.

The controversy began in late 2023 when Zhang was embroiled in internal disputes within the university’s governing council.

The University of Hong Kong’s Council subsequently announced yesterday that it has accepted the findings of a special panel which was set up following resolutions on 9th October 2023 and 6th November 2023. The panel was tasked with investigating allegations of misconduct against the Vice-Chancellor, which emerged from complaint emails under the university’s “Whistle-blowing” Policy and Procedures. According to the evidence reviewed, the allegations were not substantiated.

The Council has directed that its Human Resource Policy Committee, Finance Committee, and other relevant committees will examine the panel’s report. They will advise on actions to be taken to address and prevent any recurrence of the issues identified, aiming to enhance governance in alignment with the university’s mission.

The investigative panel was chaired by the Hon. Jimmy Ng Wing-ka, Chairman of the University’s Audit Committee. Its members included Council members Dr. T. Brian Stevenson and Mr. Jason Chiu, alongside non-Council members Mr. Richard Khaw SC and Dr. David Sun Tak-kei. The panel had the authority to scrutinize each complaint detailed in the emails and to conduct investigations in accordance with the university’s whistle-blowing procedures, before reporting their findings back to the Council.

In a statement released following the report, Zhang expressed relief and vindication, condemning the actions of those who, he claimed, maliciously distorted facts and misinformed the public to obstruct the university’s reform and development. “This report confirms that all the accusations made anonymously against me are unfounded. It’s a restoration of my reputation,” he stated.

Zhang’s statement also criticised the misuse of the whistleblower system, suggesting that anonymous allegations had caused significant damage to the university’s reputation and hindered its progress. He highlighted the need for a careful approach to handling such reports to protect the rights of those accused and to ensure the system is not exploited for ulterior motives.