Former director of the East Asian Institute (EAI) in the National University of Singapore (NUS) has denied all claims of sexual harassment levelled against him by his former staff as the university continues to investigate the allegations.
Multiple harassment claims had appeared on social media in the past month, with at least two users – who identified themselves as NUS or EAI staff – accusing Professor Zheng Yongnian of sexual harassment.
A current staff working at the East Asian Institute (EAI) accused the former director of sexual harassment in a Twitter thread posted on August.
Som what happened? Here’s a recap.
Warnings Given by NUS and EAI
User @Chary19513, who goes by the name Charlotte, tweeted that she was harassed by Prof Zheng in 2018.
I am Charlotte, current staff at East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore. I was sexually harassed by former Director Zheng Yongnian in 2018. I reported to the police and Zheng was administrated with a warning for offence of Outrage of Modesty after investigation.
— Chary (@Chary19513) August 7, 2020
In the same thread, Charlotte was also given a “soft warning” from NUS and EAI and was also admonished by EAI, telling her to “stay away from female colleagues who were also harassed.”
“I understand that compared with me, a man like Zheng Yongnian has almost unlimited resources and could make you troubles in almost all aspects. But I think victims should not give up until we see the justice,” Charlotte wrote on separate Twitter thread dated 2 Sept.
Denied All Allegations
Following the multiple harassment claims, Prof Zheng “categorically denies” all allegations, whether by EAI staff or any other persons, his lawyers said in a press statement on Friday (4 Sept) evening.
They also said that the professor’s resignation from the university and EAI was unrelated to the allegations and complaint against him.
Instead, they said he had accepted a new post that “allows him to focus more on research as a scholar, where his passions lie”.
The 58-year-old professor is understood to have joined the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, as the head of its Advanced Institute of Global and Contemporary China Studies by late August.
Follow-up from NUS and EAI
In the same 2 Sept Twitter thread, Charlotte claimed that she was sexually harassed in the first month of her working at EAI in May 2018. She made a police report in May 2019.
According to The Straits Times, the police and an NUS spokesman confirmed that a report was lodged. Police said they administered a stern warning for outrage of modesty in April in the case and this was done in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
The NUS spokesman said the university followed up on the case with an internal investigation. The spokesman also added that NUS found that another employee had filed a police report against Prof Zheng over an incident that took place in 2012.
However, this case was closed by the police without any further action, and the employee left the institute after her contract expired, said the spokesman.
She did not lodge a complaint regarding Prof Zheng with the institute, said the spokesman.
“All allegations of sexual misconduct are taken seriously and internal investigations are conducted to look into allegations with priority,” said the spokesman, adding that the university pays special attention to affected staff and will not tolerate any bullying.
An EAI spokesperson told TODAYonline that the institute is aware of the postings on social media containing “wide-ranging allegations with regard to the East Asian Institute and some of its current and former staff members”.
The EAI spokesperson said: “The institute and the university take allegations of staff misconduct very seriously.
“The institute has been providing support and assistance to staff who may be affected by this matter and will continue to do so.”