Taoist deity Shennong (神農大帝, God of Agriculture) was yesterday conferred with a distinguished honorary doctorate by the Chiayi County-based National Chung Cheng University in a gesture of gratitude for a local temple’s donation of land during the university’s founding.
Shennong was the first deity to receive a diploma from a Taiwanese university and possibly the world’s only divine being with a doctorate, university president Wu Jyh-yang (吳志揚) said.
When the school was founded in 1989, it was built on 131 hectares of farmland previously owned by the the Shennong-worshipping Gufeng Temple, 60 hectares of which were a donation, a crucial factor in the decision to build the university in Chiayi rather than Yunlin or Tainan, which were vying to host the new university, Wu said.
Photo: Yu Hsueh-lan, Taipei Times
For the conferment ceremony yesterday, the divine being’s idol was clothed in an custom-tailored academic robe and its head was adorned with an academic square cap.
Wu moved the cap tussle, in view of people who attended as Shennong’s guests of honor.
Renowned embroider and tailor Chou Jang-ting (周讓廷) from the county’s Putzi city (朴子) was commissioned by the school to make Shennong’s academic robe.
Chou said tailoring Shennong’s robe took 100 hours in comparison with the typical 10 hours needed for most other temple idols.
The decision to accept the conferment of the degree from the school was made unanimously by the temple’s board of directors, Gufeng Temple Secretary-General Lai Hsiao-te (賴孝德) said, adding that members of the board felt this was a happy event.
Wu said that while many universities had conferred honorary degrees to people who had contributed to their founding or distinguished members of society, including former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) who received a National Chung Cheng University honorary doctorate, the distinguished honorary doctorate given to Shennong was the highest honor of its kind.
“It is only appropriate for us to demonstrate our gratitude to the temple,” he said, referring to the temple’s donation.
921 EARTHQUAKE: The magnitude 7.3 quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged The Central Weather Bureau yesterday received about 50,000 views on Facebook after it posted the data that it collected on Sept. 21, 1999, when the nation was devastated by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake. The data showed that the 921 Earthquake hit the nation at 1:47am, with the epicenter being 7km southwest of the bureau’s quake detection center in Nantou County’s Yuchi Township (魚池) at a depth of 8km. The quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged, with the cost of the damage estimated at NT$300 billion (US$10.8 billion at the current
British newspaper The Mail on Sunday reported that Prince Charles met with Bruno Wang (汪家興), a Taiwanese fugitive who describes himself as a Chinese philanthropist and donated ￡500,000 (US$683,522) to the prince’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation. The newspaper reported that Wang is wanted in Taiwan on charges related to money laundering and being a fugitive from justice, allegations he denies, and drew comparisons between Wang and the Russian banker Dmitry Leus. Investigation and cooperation with foreign authorities have found that Bruno Wang’s father, Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), had stashed proceeds from a scandal involving the procurement of Lafayette frigates in 61 bank accounts,
AT ODDS: The KMT called on the government to seek bilateral dialogue with Beijing to resolve the issue that led to the ban on custard apple and wax apple imports Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits. China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug. The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February. At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday. This time
BY OTHER MEANS: China could see CPTPP membership as a means of circumventing trade restrictions imposed by the US, amid an ongoing trade dispute between them The US could invoke a clause in its trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to block China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a government official said yesterday. Under Article 32.10 of the Exceptions and General Provisions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), if either Canada or Mexico enter a free-trade agreement with a nonmarket economy — such as China — the US could withdraw from the agreement. “If that clause applies to multilateral free-trade agreements such as the CPTPP — which Mexico and Canada are members of — that might be cause for the two