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NUS’ East Asian Institute looking into allegations by staff member that she was bullied for reporting case of sexual harassment

SINGAPORE — The East Asian Institute (EAI) of the National University of Singapore (NUS) is investigating several allegations by a staff member who claimed that she had been bullied for accusing a professor of sexual harassment.

An employee of the East Asian Institute claimed that she had been given a “soft warning” by the institute and the National University of Singapore and had suffered “bullying and retaliations”.

An employee of the East Asian Institute claimed that she had been given a “soft warning” by the institute and the National University of Singapore and had suffered “bullying and retaliations”.

SINGAPORE — The East Asian Institute (EAI) of the National University of Singapore (NUS) is investigating several allegations by a staff member who claimed that she had been bullied for accusing a professor of sexual harassment.

She claimed that she had been given a “soft warning” by the NUS and EAI management, and had suffered “bullying and retaliations”.

The purported victim, who identified herself only as Charlotte, tweeted last month that a professor named Zheng Yongnian had sexually harassed her in May 2018 during her first month working at EAI.

She reported him to the police in May last year "after a year's struggle", she wrote in her tweet. She added that the police investigations concluded in May this year and that Prof Zheng was issued a warning by the authorities thereafter.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the police confirmed on Thursday that a report was filed on May 13 last year against a 57-year-old man. This was over an outrage-of-modesty case that reportedly happened on May 30, 2018.

The police added that following investigations, they issued a stern warning to the man on April 23 this year. This was done in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The employee claimed that EAI was aware of Prof Zheng's alleged behaviour, but “pretend(ed) not to know”. She also accused the institute of “covering up”.

She tweeted: “It seemed that any victim (who) reported to EAI management will be bullied and then expelled from the institute in retaliation.”

An EAI spokesperson told TODAY 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 spokesperson added: “We understand that a police investigation related to some of the allegations has been completed and the university is following up with its internal investigations into some of the matters mentioned in the post.”

Prof Zheng has also resigned from the institute and NUS, and has been granted leave until the expiry of his contract later this month.

He was the director at the East Asian Institute for 11 years from 2008 to 2019. After stepping down, he remained at the institute as a research professor.

The Chinese national first came to Singapore in 1997 to become a researcher at the institute before he was appointed the director in 2008.

In an interview with The Straits Times after he stepped down as EAI director, Prof Zheng said that he chose to resign from the post because he wanted to return to doing research as a scholar, as that was where his passions lie.

In a report by news publication South China Morning Post, it was stated that Prof Zheng is the new head of global and contemporary China studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen.

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.”

Related topics

sexual harassment NUS Zheng Yongnian bullying

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