Fri, Nov 08, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Educator’s ‘reflection’ rap sparks furor

By Ko Yu-hao and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Kaohsiung Education Bureau Director-General Wu Rong-feng, left, speaks to reporters at the Kaohsiung City Council yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and New Power Party (NPP) Kaohsiung city councilors yesterday called for the resignation of Kaohsiung Education Bureau Director-General Wu Rong-feng after a personnel director at an elementary school was asked to write a 3,000-word “reflection” for criticizing Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) at a public forum last month.

“When civil servants are on holiday, no matter what political stance [they hold], that should have our respect,” DPP Kaohsiung City Councilor Cheng Meng-ju (鄭孟洳) said at a news conference.

“Civil servants are basically citizens,” NPP Kaohsiung City Councilor Lin Yu-kai (林于凱) said. “When they are off work, they engage in freedom of speech.”

As the personnel director made the comments over the weekend, they did not contravene administrative neutrality, he said, adding that the forum was not a “political event.”

The forums “allow residents to express their views on the city’s governance,” he added.

DPP Kaohsiung City Councilor Huang Wen-yi (黃文益) said the bureau had asked the director to write a 3,000-word reflection after it “could not find any laws to penalize this person.”

The director was treated like “a student who had done something wrong,” Huang added.

DPP Kaohsiung City Councilor Kao Min-lin (高閔琳) said she had attempted to contact the director, but to her knowledge, the director feels “resigned” about the situation.

The personnel director is “hesitating about whether to write” the reflection, she added.

Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said that the director “criticized a superior on a public occasion.”

A school’s personnel director “is a sensitive and important position, and they must maintain administrative neutrality,” he said.

“According to the Public Functionary Service Act [公務人員服務法], you cannot criticize your superior in a public setting,” Yeh said. “So [the director] contravened the service act and according to performance evaluation regulations it needs to be dealt with.”

The director “is an educator, so of course we need to use an educational method of discipline,” Wu said.

The bureau had asked the director to read a 129-page status report presented to the city council and then write a reflection, he said.

The reflection would be used as a basis to decide whether to further penalize the director, he said.

“We did not demand that [the director] write [the reflection],” he said. “[The director] can refuse to write it.”

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