Thu, Feb 15, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Petitions, planned protest roil NTU in wake of election

WATCHDOG:The Ministry of Education said that it is obliged to supervise the university’s elections, and would provide oversight and ensure it has a leader

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer, with CNA

National Taiwan University (NTU) faculty and students appear to be divided over the legitimacy of the election of Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) as president of the school and have peppered the government with rival petitions.

The former National Development Council minister and Academia Sinica member is scheduled to take office on Wednesday next week, but the Ministry of Education has delayed confirming his election amid questions over his connections to Taiwan Mobile, whose president was on the election committee, and a plagiarism allegation.

Kuan, an economist, was elected on Jan. 5 by the university’s presidential election committee, but it was later discovered that he serves as an independent director of the telecommunications firm, leading the ministry to call on the committee to re-examine its decision.

The committee on Jan. 31 said that Kuan’s election had been “without questions,” but the ministry has yet to approve the vote.

The NTU Autonomy Alliance, a group comprised of pro-Kuan faculty and students, on Tuesday said it would stage a protest on Taipei’s Ketagalan Boulevard on Wednesday next week.

Faculty and students who believe the election was legitimate have gathered 4,000 signatures for a petition to the government in support of Kuan, the alliance said in a statement.

The government must respect Kuan as the school’s duly elected president and political groups should stay out of the university’s affairs, it said.

However, none of the officials to whom the petition was addressed — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier William Lai (賴清德) and Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) — have responded to it, the group said.

A separate petition by faculty and students calling on the school to re-examine the transparency of Kuan’s campaign and his adherence to academic ethics has passed the signature threshold needed for the school to hold an extraordinary faculty meeting on the issue.

The university has yet to announce a date for such a meeting or its proposed agenda.

The ministry yesterday said in a statement that it has an obligation to monitor the university’s elections in accordance with the school’s charter and organizational rules.

It sees its role as providing legal oversight and ensuring that the university will have a new president, it said.

The ministry’s conduct would strictly follow the principles of university autonomy and applicable laws and regulations, it added.

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