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.
Mo Yen is a graduate student at National Taiwan University.
Translated by Perry Svensson
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to be Taiwan’s next representative to the US. Hsiao is well versed in international affairs and Taiwan-US relations. In her days as a student in the US, she was a member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and served as chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s US mission. She is familiar with a broad spectrum of Taiwanese affairs in the US. FAPA hopes that Hsiao, after taking up her new post, would continue to deepen and normalize relations between Taiwan and the US, and that she would try to get a free-trade agreement