The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced the revival of the Sun Yat-sen Scholarship, a program that used to be a major means for the party to cultivate talent within its own ranks, as it encouraged its members to apply for the program while denying assigning political missions to scholarship recipients.
The KMT launched the scholarship program in 1960 to send outstanding young party members abroad for advanced studies.
Many of the recipients later became KMT heavyweights and top politicians, including President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), KMT Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) and Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤).
The reinstatement of the scholarship comes 10 years after it was suspended, after Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, discussed reinstating it with party officials in April.
KMT Vice Chairman Chan Chun-po (詹春柏), who won the scholarship in 1966, yesterday said the program served as a great way to cultivate talent for the nation, rather than for political purposes.
“The purpose of the Sun Yat-sen Scholarship is to cultivate talent and help them make great contributions to the nation. There are no controversies involved in the program. We are doing good things for the nation with the program,” he said at the party’s headquarters.
The scholarship sparked controversy when opposition parties accused the KMT of sending scholarship recipients overseas to work as campus spies for the party, reporting on pro-independence Taiwanese students.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has alleged that Ma, who received the scholarship in 1974, was one of the “professional students” for the KMT when he studied at Harvard University. The DPP has accused Ma of being responsible for reporting on many pro-independence Taiwanese and putting them on a blacklist for criticizing the KMT.
The KMT yesterday invited other scholarship recipients to endorse the program, including Taichung County Deputy Commissioner Chang Chuang-hsi (張壯熙) and Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉), a professor of mass communications at National Taiwan Normal University, who insisted that they were never asked to participate in any political activities.
“I had expected being assigned secret missions when I won the scholarship, but the KMT just asked me to focus on my studies and serve the nation when I returned to Taiwan,” Hu said.
Chang echoed Hu’s comments and encouraged younger KMT members to apply for the scholarship.
The program will offer a two-year scholarship of NT$2.6 million (US$80,000) to recipients. KMT members under 40 with a college degree are eligible to apply. The KMT will select 10 recipients following written and oral tests.
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