Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday gave no response to former students who, in an open letter, expressed their disappointment in him for not trying to make politics a “noble profession” while he now has a chance to realize the political ideals they have learned from him when he was a professor.
The letter, made public on Wednesday, was signed by 163 people who said they were taught political science by Jiang, a former professor of political philosophy at National Taiwan University before he entered politics in 2008.
A video clip was also uploaded to YouTube by one of the signatories, featuring the message that Jiang delivered to his students on the eve of their graduation in 2006, saying that he expected them to do their teachers and fellow students proud.
“Thinking back to those days, we studied [Greek philosopher] Plato’s thoughts, sort of hoping one day we will have a state ruled by ideals gained through the correct political knowledge,” the former students said in the letter.
“Professor Jiang, you have a chance to realize your political ideals. You are already in a prominent position. Now the affairs of state are in the hands of you and your comrades, but we are not proud of Premier Jiang Yi-huah,” they said.
They said they wrote the letter to voice their concerns over a repressive state apparatus under Jiang, as seen in the recent forced demolition of four houses in Miaoli County’s Dapu Borough (大埔) to make way for a development project, and in subsequent incidents that involved police using force against anti-land-grab protesters.
The letter said Jiang was once a professor that all the students looked up to and the message from Jiang when they were about to graduate has often been mentioned among them years later.
“You have said this: Even though people always find politics disappointing, we who majored in political science should always prove to people with our deeds that politics could be a noble profession,” the letter read.
The former students said they could have felt proud of Jiang in his handling of the Dapu case because he, “a politician who once taught the ethics of responsibility” in politics in school, had helped negotiate the settlement in 2010 when he was the interior minister that the four houses would remain intact.
“[Indeed, as you had said] politics determine the fate of people. Now the residents [of the four houses] have lost the homes they lived in,” they said, adding that they were once thrilled by the idea voiced by Jiang in an op-ed article that “curtailment of abuse of power through rules and limits on government authority constitute the essence of constitutionalism.”
After National Chengchi University professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) and National Taiwan University student Hung Chung-yen (洪崇晏) were injured earlier this week as a result of police violence at a non-violent protest against the demolition, and were told that they could be charged with offenses against public safety, “[we] students would like to ask you … do we misunderstand your constitutional democracy?” the letter said.
Jiang brought up issues surrounding the Dapu case at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, but he made no mention of the open letter, according to Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文).
However, Cheng said Jiang had told the Cabinet meeting that he found the clashes between the police and protesters regrettable.
“In a democracy, people have the right to express their views as long as they act in a rational way. The government should give these rights its full respect,” Cheng quoted Jiang as saying.
Jiang appealed to people and civil groups planning to stage protests to abide by rules under the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) and related laws, Cheng said.
Cheng said Jiang also appealed to officials at the Ministry of the Interior and at the National Police Agency to mind their attitudes and to be more skillful when they carry out their duties to avoid unnecessary controversy.