Thu, Jun 16, 2005 - Page 3 News List

School in trouble over nation's symbols

`BAD EXAMPLE' The Hsiuping Institute of Technology is in hot water after it removed the national flag and a portrait of Sun Yat-sen just before a visit by Chinese academics

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hsiuping Institute of Technology in Taichung County came under fire yesterday after taking down the national flag and a portrait of Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) in an apparent gesture to welcome guests from China.

Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) yesterday denounced the school as setting a bad example for students and the general public.

"Any international academic exchange with China should be based on the premise of mutual respect. As an educational institute, the school succumbed to pressure from China and humiliated our national pride. It set a bad example for the school's students, and seriously damaged Taiwan's reputation," Tu said yesterday.

Tu told the ministry's monthly meeting yesterday afternoon that the ministry's Technology and Vocational Education Department is investigating the case, and the school may face some form of punishment in the future.

According to reports in local Chinese-language media, the Hsiuping Institute of Technology invited an academic exchange group from Shandong University of Technology in China to attend the school's graduation ceremony on June 12. The school allegedly took down the national flag and a portrait of Sun moments before the eight guests from China joined the proceedings.

Some students and their parents have described the removal of the national symbols as a gesture to please the Chinese visitors.

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday described the school's decision to remove the flag and portrait as a disgrace.

Hsieh also described the removal as a bad example to be set by an educational institution and called on the education ministry to rectify the matter.

The Hsiuping Institute of Technology yesterday denied that the flag and portrait had been removed as a "goodwill" gesture to the visitors.

"We did not take down the national flag and portrait of Dr. Sun Yat-sen to welcome the representatives from China. We took them down to better display the background setting that had been designed specially for the graduation ceremony," school president Lin Bao-zong (林寶琮) said.

According to Lin, the graduation ceremony was opened with the singing of the national anthem, followed by bowing to the national flag and a portrait of Sun. The school then removed the flag and portrait in order to change the background setting.

"Taking down the flag and portrait had nothing to do with pleasing the academic exchange group from China, it was done so as not to obscure the ceremony's background setting. We will never damage the reputation of our country, so there must be a misunderstanding," he said.

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