President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) should make public their stances on the controversial “fine-tuning” of high-school curriculum guidelines, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday, criticizing what he called the Ma administration’s unwillingness to address the controversy.
“Because the curriculum guidelines have already caused so much controversy, the premier and the president should have made their stances clear long ago,” Ko said.
“The curriculum guidelines are their problem and it is their responsibility to resolve it,” Ko said. “Because the issue has not been properly addressed and the Ministry of Education did not deal with the student protests effectively, things got to the point where the police had to come in and clean up the mess.”
The adjustments to curriculum guidelines slated to go into effect on Aug. 1 have been controversial for an allegedly “China-centric” focus and “opaque” approval process.
Student activists and three reporters were arrested on Thursday for trespassing on ministry grounds during a protest against the changes.
Ko yesterday said that any decision on whether police officers would be disciplined for making the arrests would have to wait until the Taipei Police Department presented a full report.
Because of the police department’s vested interests, the report would be subject to a review by a city committee chaired by Taipei Deputy Mayor Teng Chia-chi (鄧家基), with the students and reporters involved invited to submit their views, he said.
Meanwhile, the ministry yesterday reiterated that it would continue to “cooperate” with the police investigation into the incident in accordance with the law.
Deputy Minister of Education Chen Der-hwa (陳德華) said that while the ministry would advise the public prosecutor to show leniency in cases where students were willing to apologize, there were no plans to drop charges.
He added that the students’ physical altercation with a ministry official who tried to prevent them from entering the building was subject to public prosecution.
Chen added that no decision had been made on whether or not to drop charges against the reporters who had been arrested with the students.
Separately yesterday, in a regular meeting at the Presidential Office building attended by Ma, Mao and Cabinet officials, Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) made a presentation on the planned adjustments to the curriculum guidelines, but made no mention of the ministry’s much-criticized handling of the protest.
Wu defended the procedures the ministry had followed in proposing the adjustments as he said that they were in accordance with established precedents.
The 17 debatable items in the new version of the curriculum guidelines were in line with historical facts and the Constitution, Wu added.
In response to demands that the decisionmaking process be made transparent, the ministry has publicized meeting minutes and the conclusions of the curriculum review committee, Wu said, adding that the ministry would stand by its decision not to disclose what each review committee member had said and voted for at the meetings.
Making the information public “could have serious repercussions for the operations of the administration branch” because it would mean that individuals sitting on many other committees commissioned by the ministry or other governmental agencies would also become subject to the requirement, Wu said.