The Ministry of Education’s proposed changes to the high-school curriculum guidelines sparked a shouting match among lawmakers on the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday that again paralyzed committee proceedings.
Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) walked out of the meeting at 10:10am, after a melee among legislators over whether they should proceed with the meeting — in which Chiang was to deliver a report on the curriculum adjustments — had continued unabated since the meeting began at 9am.
Lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) shouted “runaway minister” at Chiang as he exited the room and mocked his leaving without the committee’s permission.
It was the second time Chiang has been blocked from delivering his report on the curriculum adjustments to the committee. The first was on Thursday last week.
“It is a waste of our time and also of taxpayers’ money to have Minister Chiang here, but not have him answer our questions,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) said.
“Chiang is responsible for the stalemate, since his ministry has not provided lawmakers with any of the materials that we have been asking for since the adjustments were announced,” DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.
Amid growing protests from teachers, historians and other academics, the DPP and the TSU have demanded full disclosure of word-for-word transcripts of the ministry meetings held to decide the adjustments, but the ministry has denied the request.
Ministry of Education Secretary-General Wang Tsuo-tai (王作台) said the meeting minutes had to remain confidential so that people who are commissioned by government agencies — not just the ministry — to participate in policymaking can speak freely without having to worry that their remarks may be made public someday.
Speaking from the podium, TSU Legislator Lai Chen-chang (賴振昌) demonstrated his anger over the changes to the curriculum guidelines by tearing up the written report Chiang had presented to the committee.
Citing one of the approved changes — to use the term “mainland China” instead of “China” when referring to the People’s Republic of China — Lai said: “Minister Chiang, the ministry argued that the curriculum guidelines abide by the Constitution, but last time I asked you about this, you admitted that you have never seen the phrase ‘mainland China’ in the Constitution. How can you then address the policy’s constitutionality in your report?”