Thu, Dec 25, 2003 - Page 2 News List

NTU to apologize for 1974 crackdown on professors

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

National Taiwan University (NTU) said yesterday it would apologize to philosophy professors who were accused of being leftists and fired in 1974.

NTU president Chen Wei-jao (陳維昭) said the university decided to restore the reputations of the professors, who were forced to abandon their tenure for alleged connection with communists in 1974 in what was known as the Philosophy Department Incident (台大哲學系事件).

Chen said the university will send a formal letter to the victims and their families as an apology.

The university said it would welcome those professors to resume their teaching jobs at NTU. Those who do not want to go back to the university will receive NT$60,000 in compensation, Chen said.

Thirteen professors were forced to give up their teaching jobs at that time. Four decided to return to NTU and nine did not.

"This is the most unfortunate incident since NTU was founded. The school authorities felt sorry that political powers intervened in the university. Some did not tell the truth and even framed their colleagues as leftists, over which we feel deep regret," Chen said in a statement released at the press conference.

Ko Ching-ming (柯慶明), one member of the investigation committee set up by the NTU to piece together the truth, recounted the course of the incident at the press conference and said the belated justice demonstrated that academic freedom and loyalty to knowledge do exist.

Ko said that during the 1970s, when tensions arose over ownership of a small group of uninhabited islands northeast of Taiwan -- the Tiaoyutai, or Senkaku, islands, have long been a conflict between Taiwan, China and Japan, each of whom claim them as part of their territory.

The feud neared violence on a number of occasions since 1969, when the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East reported possible hydrocarbon deposits under the islands.

The dispute stoked both nationalist sentiment and prompted cries for peace from several professors in NTU's philosophy department. As students became increasingly boisterous, the authorities ultimately forced the university to close its philosophy department and fire those professors who had been stirring the students to protest.

Ko said the tragedy was manipulated by "certain people with ulterior motives" to frame some professors and students.

According to Ko, former New Party legislator Elmer Fung (馮滬祥), then a philosophy graduate student, was one of the accomplices who instigated the incident under the Taiwan Garrison Command.

Chen Ku-ying (陳鼓應), a philosophy professor who was persecuted in the incident, said he was happy to see the victims' names cleared and appreciated Chen Wei-jao's courage to restore the truth.

He also said that then-KMT secretary-general Chiang Yang-shih (蔣彥士), then the minister of education, was the key figure who manipulated the incident from behind the scenes. He said Chiang Yang-shih was working under the direction of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who wanted to squelch the liberal atmosphere at NTU and the nascent peace movement.

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