Sat, Jan 20, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Peng forced out by education ministry over plagiarism

UNFIT After dragging its feet the Ministry of Education has stripped Peng Tso-kwei of his position as head of a national university

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

After days of fierce media scrutiny, the Ministry of Education yesterday finally decided to strip Peng Tso-kwei (彭作奎), president of National Chung Hsing University, of his post on the grounds that -- having been found to have committed plagiarism -- he is no longer suitable for the post.

The announcement ended a public controversy surrounding the selection of the school's president that has persisted since last summer.

"Being a president of a university, one should be equipped with both administrative competence and supreme moral standards. Since Peng's academic publications have been proven to be plagiarized, he is unfit to be the head of a university," said Lu Mu-lin (呂木琳), vice minister of education.

"The ministry has deprived Peng of his position in accordance with article three of the Teaching Personnel Hiring Act (教育人員任用條例), which states that teachers must remain of good character."

The dispute has been a focus of media attention since last September when the head of the school's professors' association Wu Ming-ming (吳明敏), reported the accusation against Peng's academic integrity to the ministry after Peng was chosen to be one of the presidential hopefuls of the university.

In spite of strong protests by the school's professors, the education ministry selected Peng as president. Peng assumed the post on Oct. 1.

After months of investigation, the National Science Council ruled earlier this month that the charge of plagiarism against Peng was valid, and the Committee for Academic Evaluation (學術審議委員會), under the education ministry, subsequently announced that a book penned by Peng had been proven to have been plagiarized.

On hearing the news, Wu said he was pleased with the outcome, but he said the Ministry of Education should still be blamed for dragging its feet over the case and for Minister of Education Ovid Tzeng's (曾志朗) "evasive attitude" towards the dispute.

Reports said Peng had told Tzeng of his intention of resigning shortly before the ministry announced its decision.

At a press conference held at the university -- though Peng apologized for the tumult caused by the incident both at the university and in society at large -- he considered the ruling by the National Science Council to be unfair.

"I would like to apologize for the instability stemming from this event and I am here to announce my decision to resign from my post because I feel my pride has been trampled on. I think a scholar's integrity, just like the chastity of an empress, allows no room for questioning," said Peng, referring to what he described the National Science Council's "unjust verdict."

"There is a difference between plagiarizing and lacking proper citations. What I did not do appropriately was to include the original references in the book, but that is not plagiarism."

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