Following the months-long debate over the legitimacy of National Taiwan University's (NTU) presidential election process, the announcement of Lee Si-chen (李嗣涔) as the university's new president by the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Friday has sparked still more controversy. This time around, tongues are wagging about the ministry's alleged favoritism -- and Lee's personal interest in psychic phenomenons.
After the struggle to find a new president for NTU, the selection of Lee to succeed current NTU president Chen Wei-jao (
"NTU's election committee selected engineering college dean Yang Yeong-bin (
In addition to calling on NTU's presidential election committee and students to speak up and fight for the university's autonomy, Kuan also urged Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) to consider yielding more decision-making power to universities.
"It is unfortunate that the preference of the nation's most prestigious university was overlooked by the Ministry of Education. To show more respect to NTU, I urge Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) not to approve the MOE's choice," Kuan said.
During NTU's first primary, held to narrow the field from the six presidential hopefuls in March, only Yang earned more than 50 percent of the votes and qualified as a finalist. The university then held another primary in April in which it chose Lee as a second finalist to present to the MOE -- even though he had not attracted more than 50 percent of the vote in the first primary.
In addition to the criticism that the MOE ignored the primary result at the university and chose Lee to take the post, the opposition also questioned the new president's personal interest in psychic phenomenons.
"I don't think a person who promotes psychic phenomenons and superstitious behavior should lead NTU," said NTU election committee member Yang Hsin-nan (楊信男), a professor at the Physics Department. "His election as president will seriously damage our school's reputation and encourage superstitious behavior."
Chao Ting-wei (
"I don't think it is a good idea to select someone whose studies have sparked controversy to be the new president at NTU," he said.
As an engineering professor, Lee has been famous for his study of psychic phenomenons for more than 10 years. Believing that there are things that humans cannot comprehend, Lee drew himself into center of debate in 2001 when he defended a Chinese "magic doctor" Zhang Ying (
Lee also offered classes at NTU and outside of the university that trained students in clairvoyance. In 2002, Lee published a paper asserting that 21 out of the 138 students his team has trained since 1966 exhibited the clairvoyant ability often called the "Deva Eye" in Buddhism.