Sat, Mar 09, 2019 - Page 8 News List

NTU has no idea what transitional justice is

By Mo Yen 默言

Last month, a National Taiwan University (NTU) student was allegedly involved in the vandalization of a statue at National Chengchi University (NCCU). After six days, the university administration broke its silence, pointedly picking Feb. 28 to issue a statement accusing the student of violent behavior and intensifying social division, and, in a rare move, saying that the incident would be handled according to university regulations.

The NTU administration’s statement is chilling because of the date and because it shows an utter inability to understand political statements. If the incident is handled according to its regulations, then how does the university intend to handle NTU president Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), whom the Judicial Yuan has voted to impeach, or the 68 professors who illegally took side jobs?

The student’s actions at NCCU were a political statement. Should this kind of action also be treated as destruction of public property as specified in NTU’s regulations?

Furthermore, Article 5 of the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例) states that “symbols appearing in public buildings or places that commemorate or express nostalgia for authoritarian rulers shall be removed, renamed, or dealt with in some other way.”

Statues that show nostalgia for authoritarian rulers still have not been removed or had their names changed as school administrations ignore the law and instead call student actions extreme.

Do they really think that it is extreme to demand that the law be followed?

The accusations of violence and intensified social division by NTU are even more unacceptable. What really intensifies social division is people who are unwilling to understand history and who worship authoritarian symbols.

NTU, a hall of learning, does not even have a rudimentary understanding of transitional justice. On Feb. 28, NTU students spontaneously organized a forum on the April 6 Incident to discuss the history of state violence and the White Terror era and, on the very same day, the NTU chose to condemn a student.

That the NTU administration displays such a lack of awareness of history and such ignorance of the importance of the date is a source of endless distress.

If NTU really does have such high standards of “legal conscience,” and if it really does care about social division and its educational responsibilities, should it not set a good example by explaining to students why its president can remain silent, despite earning millions of New Taiwan dollars from side jobs and despite the Judicial Yuan voting to impeach him?

Should it not explain why academic papers that are possibly the result of ethics violations are not investigated, but instead passed off as “informal papers” to allay public doubt? Then there are the 68 professors who illegally took side jobs, almost entirely without punishment.

What have these incidents taught students?

The controversy over Kuan has been going on for almost a year, resulting in turmoil and division. To this day, the institute has not displayed the slightest intent to reform. Instead it made a big deal over issuing a statement on Feb. 28 so that its new president could crack his whip and bring out school regulations to address a political controversy.

Here is a piece of advice Kuan should consider carefully: Start by doing what is right instead of punishing students while allowing your staff to get away with worse.

This story has been viewed 2109 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top