A decision by the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Student Association to remove a Republic of China (ROC) flag during a recent forum attended by a group of students from China has sparked a campus controversy.
The association drew widespread criticism from within the school after an association staffer took away an ROC flag displayed at a school auditorium minutes before a speech by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) on Dec. 10.
Chiang was scheduled to deliver a speech entitled “Humans Rights and Diplomacy” at the invitation of the association. A group of students from Tianjin University visiting the school also attended the occasion.
A video clip posted by an anonymous person on YouTube showed a Cheng Kung student protesting the removal and saying “the association should have had the guts to show the students from Tianjin University that we in Taiwan do have a national flag.”
The clip shows the moderator of the speech denying that the flag had been there. The moderator then asks the protester to respect the rights of other attendees.
Chiang tells the protester: “I don’t know if the flag was there, but we are in Taiwan ... Just let it go.”
The incident was brought up the next day at the university’s latest student rights forum.
Lin Hung-yi (林宏易), a student representative, questioned the need for the association to remove the flag.
Lin described the removal as a “political incident,” adding that there was “political ideology” behind the decision to take the flag away.
He said the association should have dealt with the matter with more caution and maturity.
In response to the criticism, Tsai Cheng-han (蔡承翰), deputy chief of the association’s international affairs department, said it was a “general rule” among international student organizations that national flags should not be displayed during exchanges with students from different countries.
He said the association’s removal of the flag was in line with the rule.
Another department staffer called the association’s removal of the flag “inappropriate,” but said the association had been trying to prevent the speech from becoming politicized.
When asked for comment, university secretary-general Lee Wei-hsien (李偉賢) said the school authorities did not know that the association would remove the flag.
Lee called the flag’s removal “unnecessary,” adding that the school would seek to prevent a repeat of the incident.