SINGAPORE: The approval for a talk by Hong Kong-based academic Cherian George at the National University of Singapore (NUS) last Friday (Mar 9) was delayed due to "an oversight" and he has accepted an invitation to give a talk later this month, the university said on Wednesday.
In a blog post last Friday, Prof George, who is a Singapore citizen, wrote that he was invited in December last year to deliver a public lecture at NUS but the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences received approval for the event only on the day itself, a development he described as "the punchline to a bad joke".
He wrote: "It’s Friday 9 March. My calendar tells me I’m supposed to be delivering a lecture today at the National University of Singapore. The view from my window tells me I never left Hong Kong. My host was unable to go ahead with the event because official approval was not forthcoming — until 3pm today."
A few days prior to the scheduled talk, Prof George said that he "was forced to" decline, since there was no longer time to make travel arrangements and publicise the lecture.
He was also told that "all visitors to the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences [FASS] are subject to screening", he wrote.
In an emailed response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, a spokesperson from NUS said: "We regret that our internal administrative process took longer than expected due to an oversight, leading to this unfortunate incident."
The spokesperson added that NUS had invited Prof George to give a talk scheduled for later this month, to which he has accepted. The event is scheduled for Mar 28 at 2.30pm.
In an updated post on his blog, Prof George confirmed that he had accepted NUS' invitation to speak.
"I was in two minds about whether to say yes, in case it’s seen as accepting of a process that treats Singaporeans this way. But I don’t doubt my host’s sincerity in inviting me. And, I’d like to believe that collegiality still has a place in academia," he wrote.