University of Hong Kong investigating sex harassment claims after Malaysian postgraduate speaks out against tutor on Facebook

Prince Philip Dental Hospital is under HKU.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

Hong Kong's oldest university is investigating allegations of sexual harassment after a postgraduate from its dental faculty spoke out against her tutor on social media.

On Sunday, a user named L from Malaysia posted a long article on Facebook about how she was harassed by a part-time tutor at Prince Philip Dental Hospital under the University of Hong Kong, when she was doing a postgraduate programme at the faculty from 2015 to 2018.

In response to an inquiry by the Post, an HKU spokeswoman said on Tuesday afternoon: "We are aware of the allegations and are dealing with it as a matter of priority in accordance with due procedure and established practice."

According to L's accounts, the tutor had made inappropriate physical contact with her. She claimed she was also verbally harassed. This went on repeatedly in the first two years of her studies there, and the gestures included touching her arm, shoulder and back, leering at her chest and placing a red packet on her arm with its edge poking her chest, L said in her post.

The woman also claimed the tutor had once told her: "Who told you to look for single men? You could always find married men." He was talking to her about pursuing rich men.

L stated that she went through a period of self-blame instead of telling the man to stop, and all the while, she felt infuriated and devastated.

She said while some peers and nurses supported her in filing a report, she was also warned by others that the tutor had the power to make her life "a living hell" if she spoke up.

L said she later reported the case to the course director and the tutor was removed from teaching her.

But she complained that no staff had followed up with her on how she was coping with the incident, and the man in question was later rehired.

L wrote that although she was in contact with the head of the HKU Equal Opportunities Unit about her complaint, she had never been approached by the faculty for any statement on the incidents.

"After much deliberation, I am putting this on social media, hoping to create awareness about sexual harassment, be it at the workplace or teaching institutions," L wrote.

"I am not taking revenge (this is not a witch hunt) for what happened to me, but to let him back into the faculty after I have left, to jeopardise the safety of other female students, shows how lightly HKU has taken this matter."

The post got more than 700 likes and 170 shares by Tuesday night with comments expressing support for her bravery.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.