Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Fraud in academia is killing China’s Nobel dream

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion

Zhou Zunyou

Zhou Zunyou says accusations against a Fudan professor show need to enforce code of conduct

Late last month, it was reported that the academic committee of Shanghai’s Fudan University had finished its second investigation into the plagiarism accusations against Wang Zhengmin, a professor of otology there. Fudan stood by its previous findings that the claims of academic misconduct are untenable.

Wang is also an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a prestigious body of Chinese scientists. Since 2012, there have been accusations that he plagiarised others in his bid for membership of the academy.

Fudan University published its first investigation report last August, declaring that the publications in question involved academic “irregularities” rather than “misconduct”. However, when CCTV’s exposure of the scandal last month triggered a new round of media coverage, Fudan carried out its second investigation.

Despite Fudan’s denial of misconduct, many academics and commentators seemed convinced otherwise. Their view was reinforced when four of the seven senior academics who had backed Wang in his bid for membership at the academy publicly urged the academy to disqualify him.

While academic misconduct also occurs in other countries, it appears rampant in scientific research in China, for at least two major reasons.

First, mainland China uses an evaluation system that emphasises the number of academic publications rather than their quality. Research grants, career advancements and other perks are generally dependent on statistics-driven standards. These standards, however, have brought adverse consequences.

Second, violators of academic integrity run little risk of being caught or punished. Few researchers work up the courage to openly expose their peers, in part because of a fear of being exposed themselves. When an academic is accused of fraud, colleagues and the head of the institution usually choose to forgive or even protect the accused.

Against the backdrop of pervasive dishonesty in academia, the Chinese writer and blogger Fang Zhouzi has established a reputation with his relentless anti-fraud campaigns. Unfortunately, his campaign against Xiao Chuanguo, a former professor of urology at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, led to him being attacked by two thugs in 2010.

After being arrested, Xiao confessed to having masterminded the attack in revenge for Fang’s revelations that allegedly thwarted his election to the Chinese academy. Xiao was sentenced to a short prison term, but none of the relevant institutions and authorities bothered to look into the allegations to see whether there had indeed been any academic misconduct.

Like other Chinese academic institutions, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has rules in place to ensure the credibility and trustworthiness of research conducted by its members. But most of these rules exist in name only, and nobody really puts them into practice.

This may account for the fact that a high-ranking official of the previous Ministry of Railways, Zhang Shuguang, was twice nominated for membership, in 2007 and 2009.

When standing trial for corruption last September, Zhang confessed that 23 million yuan (HK$29 million) of the bribes he took were spent on efforts to get elected to the academy, to buy votes and hire ghostwriters.

Even though he showed no signs of academic excellence, Zhang failed to be elected by just one vote in 2009. The academy has denied the allegations, but has done nothing to prove its innocence.

Academicians usually have easy access to resources and research funds for themselves and their institutions. This is why it has become an open secret that bribery allegations often surround the election of members to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Such claims don’t just involve individual candidates; they can also be levelled at the institutions they work for.

According to international practice, people who investigate academic misconduct should have no conflict of interest. Since Fudan University was involved in the plagiarism scandal, its academic committee is unlikely to be an independent and impartial arbitrator in the proceedings.

Wang should resign if he wants to avoid further loss of respect and honour. The Chinese Academy of Sciences should use the scandal as an opportunity to rescue its waning reputation.

Despite having the world’s largest population and the second-largest economy, China has yet to win a single Nobel Prize in natural sciences. If academic misconduct continues unchecked, the Chinese road to Nobel Prizes will be hard and long. Such a dream cannot be realised through bribery and dishonesty.

Zhou Zunyou is head of the China section at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law


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Hong Kong Economic Journal
C05 | 城市智庫 | 回眸英倫 | By 毛羨寧 |

中學老師Ms Crawford 啟發了我自修莎士比亞劇目,但幾年後繼續跟我討論莎劇的長輩,是我的德語老師克拉克太太(Gillian Clarke)和她丈夫Colin Clarke教授。我們第一次到雅芳河畔的史特拉福(Stratford-upon-Avon)看皇家莎士比亞劇團表演是在2005年3月。「凡有女演員Harriet Walter上陣的舞台劇表演都應該看,更何況是對白精采的The Hollow Crown 。」克拉克太太說,「空王冠」主要包括了莎士比亞四齣描寫帝王的名作——由理查二世在政治上被波林勃洛克(奪位後成為亨利四世)擊敗、軍事上圍困、最後被囚殺,到亨利四世第一和二部曲,最後以亨利五世作結。儘管「空王冠」有近三十個歷史故事,舞台上只放了四張木椅子,讓穿着現代素服的演員向台下觀眾詮釋幾百年前的英倫興衰,單憑對白和四位莎劇演員爐火純青的演技打動人。想起自己初中時曾參加校際朗誦節,抑揚頓挫地表演英詩,獲得了幾個小獎座便以為那是正式的表達方法,真是不知天高地厚!返回牛津的路上,我和克拉克夫婦分析英國君王的優點缺點,尤其是那些較少人提及的。那年以後,老師訂皇家莎士比亞劇團表演的門票,總預了我的份兒。


父親曾用藝術家黃永玉的話笑說,我的好朋友是比他老的老頭,這份友誼只能說是緣分。克拉克太太從前在著名私立女校Wycombe Abbey 擔任德語科主任,遇到我的時候已退休了一陣子。她有一次光顧我母親工作的時裝店,閒談之間,母親說起我第一位德語老師Monika Prodhan住在她家附近,但無暇教學,不知道她想不想每個周末教我兩小時德語課。克拉克太太起初婉拒了,過了一星期竟回到時裝店答應母親,更說在閣樓找回教材,可以再次授徒。是什麼令她改變心意?

原來她回家告訴丈夫柯倫,得到他支持和鼓勵。柯倫當時還是牛津大學地理學系院長和耶穌學院院士,忙着在退休前出版他研究拉丁美洲的文章,指導三位博士生順利畢業,然後甄選新任院長。他們把四十多年教學的苦與樂跟我分享,一起談書籍、音樂、文化和旅遊……有一次單是說電影Sideways 為什麼取這個名字,便分析了半小時。這些不同的人生閱歷,只能在前輩身上汲取。

我們除了看莎劇,也欣賞改編和新劇作,因為皇家莎士比亞劇團不但專門演繹莎士比亞作品,還兼顧古典和現代戲劇,許多明星如男演員Jude Law 曾出演《哈姆雷特》。皇家莎士比亞劇團安排每天至少有兩個劇團交替,例如午場先演出早期或不成名的歐洲經典劇目,接下來是當代戲劇和莎士比亞時期的節目。八十多名演員在英國國內的劇場同時演出,加上兩三個在全國和世界各地巡迴表演。這樣把傳統和現代藝術結合,訓練出戲劇藝術和舞台技術的新一代。劇團在2008年更聘請了埃森哲顧問公司(Accenture)對其企業特質進行研究,令「Royal Shakespeare Company」名字更深入青年民心,進一步擴大觀眾群,鼓勵老觀眾固定觀看演出,確保劇團將來仍能保持良好的財務業績和世界頂尖劇團的地位。劇團的長期成功,離不開忠實的觀眾,也離不開一代傳一代的效應。


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Politicians must stop the horseplay and get down to real reform debate

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion

Alice Wu

Alice Wu is tired of the scuffles and meaningless quarrels over definitions of words that pass for debate on political reform here in HK

If Christmas can be said to be a season of institutionalised hope, the Lunar New Year is surely one of institutionalised positive thinking, requiring everything said or done at this time to be in the spirit of goodwill and good luck. But, by the time objects are being hurled at people – assault camouflaged as political dissent – we know our days of positive thinking are over and that it’s open season again for our politicians.

The more wishful-thinking among us might have hoped that the Year of the Horse would provide a needed burst of speed to get our political reform going. Unfortunately, by the look of the scuffles that broke out during last week’s Occupy Central event, this is unlikely to happen.

The “fascist” disruption – as the Democrats described the protest by some members of the People Power group – underlined the unfortunate and inopportune rift in the pan-democratic camp, a reopening of the old wounds first inflicted in 2010 during the last round of political reform. More than that, the scuffle shed light on the extent of the reform challenge.

Histrionics have marred the wide-ranging discussions that should feature in our reform debate. When objects fly, conversation stops; we’re too busy ducking. Our politicians – from both sides of the divide – could have been working constructively to put their best ideas forward and trying to garner support – including Beijing’s – for them. But instead, they have limited themselves to closing doors and to a shrinking vocabulary.

They appear to take the rest of us for simpletons. The terms that define our debate are so devoid of depth and breadth that all our politicians do is fight inconsequential battles over words: the most recent being ownership of the word “genuine”.

We’ve sparred over “genuine universal suffrage” and “genuine democracy”; now add “genuine goodwill” to the mix. We may credit the chairman of the Labour Party for providing the latest exercise in pointlessness. Having decided he would not attend the reception that the central government’s liaison office will host later this week, he needed only to decline the invitation.

Instead, he apparently felt he needed company – and called for a pan-democratic boycott of the event because the would-be hosts did not demonstrate genuine goodwill with the invitation.

At this stage in his long political career, he thought it wise to succumb to sophomoric notions of playground politics – “I’m not going to the party, so none of you can either”. The event may be superficial, but if one does not want to go, there’s no need to pressure others not to attend as well. This isn’t kids’ play.

The public discourse over political reform in Hong Kong is seriously lacking in diversity and dimension, because our politicians prefer to lash out instead of working through each challenge. Sadly, this poor excuse of an ideas marketplace robs us of the very essence of genuine politics.

For the Year of the Horse, let’s demand that our politicians rise to the challenge and inject vitality and ingenuity into the way we conduct politics here.

Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA

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武訓興學傳為美談 胡鍾辦樹仁譜寫傳奇





擇善固執錚錚風骨 胡鍾彰顯士人傳統





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Government should come clean about why it is so against civic nomination

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion

Keane Shum

Keane Shum says with so many theories of statutory interpretation available, it’s hard to accept the government’s seeming insistence on excluding civic nomination of candidates for the chief executive election

Some time ago, the chief executive and I exchanged letters, in these pages, on the topic of universal suffrage. In a developed society, I argued, it was an inevitable evolution, and Hong Kong was as ready for democracy as any society ever could be.

Leung Chun-ying wrote that any proposal “to elect the chief executive by universal suffrage is half-baked without proposing consequential changes to other provisions” and, far from guaranteeing universal suffrage, the Basic Law stipulates that “the appointment of the chief executive without any form of elections, let alone universal franchise, is allowed”. He spelled the doom of a constitutional crisis if the central government refused to appoint whomever was returned by a direct election, and cited the “gradual and orderly progress” clause of Article 45 in calling for a slowly, slowly approach.

That was 10½ years ago. Mr Leung, are we there yet?

Ever since he took office, Leung and his administration have sounded no different than he did then, in 2003, as an executive councillor in the Tung Chee-hwa administration. Though the government has launched its public consultation, it seems to take every opportunity to constrict, rather than expand, the terms of the debate.

The latest example was Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung’s essay expounding on theories of statutory interpretation. Under the principle of expressio unius (to express one thing is to exclude another), he wrote, “It is difficult to see any changes of circumstances that can justify the inclusion of civic nomination or nomination by political parties under Article 45.”

Is it so difficult? Why couldn’t a political party, or any block of nominating committee members that holds enough seats on the committee to put forward a candidate, hold a civic nomination process to determine its nominee? To suggest that the only way a candidate could be nominated is for the entire committee to decide in isolation without consulting one another, or the constituents they are mandated to broadly represent, begs the application of another principle of statutory interpretation: reductio ad absurdum (reduction to absurdity), meaning a law cannot be interpreted to produce an absurd result.

Expressio unius, after all, is but one of many theories of statutory interpretation. Under the common law, there are no hard and fast rules for how to decipher legislation. Almost always, governments – and courts – cherry-pick the theory of interpretation that leads to the conclusion they favour. And for some reason, this government seems to keep insisting on theories of interpretation that limit the extent to which the public would be able to participate in elections.

I take Yuen’s recent point about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, even if his reasoning (the prospect of being demoted in the Heritage Foundation rankings) is deeply misguided. Any realistic proposal must be one that 47 members of the Legislative Council, the chief executive, and the central government will accept. But this cannot mean the only acceptable proposals are those that bar opposition candidates; that would again be an absurd result that completely undermines the Article 45 requirement for democratic procedures. Perhaps it can simply mean that any proposal should ensure Beijing has a horse in the race.

One way to do this would be for all legislative and district councillors to comprise the entire nominating committee, whether they are directly elected or not, with a 10 per cent threshold to successfully nominate a candidate. Legco would maintain 70 members in its 2016 election, with those of functional constituencies reduced to 24 – thereby retaining veto power – rather than the 20 of 80 total members proposed by the Alliance for True Democracy.

This way, by not restricting appointed district councillors from membership (as called for by the alliance), the nominating committee would have 543 members, assuming the government continues to proportionally reduce the number of appointed district councillors to 34. Fifty-eight members of the nominating committee, or just over 10 per cent, would then be potentially Beijing-friendly. Three of those 58 could defect and the remainder could still nominate a Beijing-backed candidate for chief executive who, possibly on the strength of that endorsement, might well be the choice of a majority of Hong Kong voters.

Meanwhile, any party or coalition of parties that counts 55 of its members on the nominating committee could decide on its designated nominee however it chooses, possibly by holding its own primary election. This would hardly usurp the nominating power of the committee, and pan-democrats would be forced to show their true colours by revealing whether they are genuinely willing to let the general public decide their nominee.

This proposal is just one of many. Some are less feasible than others, but none of them can be considered half-baked any longer. The bread has risen. The central government has spoken: some form of universal suffrage will select the next chief executive. And, yes, the central government will then exercise its power of appointment, but if that is supposed to provoke fears of a constitutional crisis, remember that every decision of our courts is ultimately subject to review by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Every day in Hong Kong is a constitutional crisis waiting to happen. Most Hongkongers accept that.

What most Hongkongers don’t accept is being made to wait. When Leung parried my entreaties over a decade ago, he wrote, “The merits or otherwise of democracy and universal suffrage were not the subject of my article.” It is about time we know where he stands on the merits.

If the government is bent on making the franchise as un-universal as possible, it needs to tell us why. What are the downsides of having the public involved in nominating candidates and why does the government think these outweigh the benefits?

Maybe there is a sound argument to be made here, and maybe the majority of the public agrees. But at least be honest with us, rather than hide behind theories of statutory interpretation and constitutional doomsday scenarios. I, for one, have waited long enough.

Keane Shum is a lawyer in Hong Kong