Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Scientist resigns over Beijing job

SENSING TROUBLE?Officials said that Liu Cheng-yen’s decision to work in China was a breach of National Applied Research Laboratories’ rules for part-time work

By Tang Chia-ling and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Former National Space Organization lead scientist Liu Cheng-yen speaks in an undated photograph.

Photo: Tang Chia-ling, Taipei Times

The National Space Organization has accepted the resignation of lead scientist Liu Cheng-yen (劉正彥) after Liu agreed to a position with the Beijing University of Technology after its recruitment drive for foreign professors, the Ministry of Science and Technology said in a statement yesterday.

Liu’s acceptance of the university’s offer led to suspicions that he might leak sensitive secrets from the organization to China.

The university’s offer was part of a regional drive to recruit 100 talented professors and is a part of Beijing’s “Thousands Talents” program, which since 2008 has sought to attract talent to support expanded laboratories, new research projects and science parks across China.

While Liu does not have clearance to access classified information and his past visits to China all followed the laboratory’s regulations on National Space Organization staff applying to visit China, Hong Kong and Macau, his acceptance of the university’s offer was a breach of the National Applied Research Laboratories’ regulations on holding part-time jobs, the ministry said.

The regulations on holding part-time jobs say that organization employees must hand in copies of contracts for part-time jobs.

The ministry said that Liu’s academic interactions with his Chinese peers are not a breach of any regulations.

The organization planned to meet yesterday morning to discuss the issue, but Liu tendered his resignation on Wednesday night, with the ministry accepting the decision.

The ministry said that Liu has been on staff — concurrently with National Applied Research Laboratories and National Central University — at the organization since 2012 as its lead scientist and has been in charge of space-science development strategies, promoting advanced scientific research and heading international cooperation projects.

The ministry said that it would be asking its legal staff to look into tighter internal controls, as well as risk assessment and management regarding its staff members and academic interaction with Chinese peers.

The incident follows former National Central University professor Chen Kun-shan’s (陳錕山) decision to leave Taiwan for a post in China, which sparked controversy throughout the nation’s academic circles, as well as in the Presidential Office.

Chinese media outlets reported in March last year that Chen, a remote-sensing scientist, has since September 2013 been hired to work at China’s State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science.

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