Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

NTU, ministry battle lines harden

STICKING WITH KUAN:Facebook posts were the forum of choice for many, while the Ministry of Education was defended by its new boss and the Northern Taiwan Society

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

From left, Free Taiwan Party Chairman Tsay Ting-kuei, Union of Taiwan Teachers executive director Hsiao Hsiao-ling, Northern Taiwan Society deputy chairman Lee Chuan-hsin, Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-sen, attorney Chan Chin-chien and National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association president Wang Yu-chun take part in a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

National Taiwan University’s (NTU) election committee yesterday said it would not choose another president for the school, despite the Ministry of Education’s decision on Friday that Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) was unqualified to be president.

The committee would not hold another election unless the ministry has a good reason for not approving Kuan, spokeswoman Yuan Hsiao-wei (袁孝維) said, adding that the committee on Saturday had said it would not accept the ministry’s decision since it had followed regulations in electing Kuan.

Although Deputy Minister of Education Yao Leeh-ter (姚立德), a committee member, said on Saturday that not all members had agreed to issue the statement, Yuan said the statement represented more than half the members.

Kuan yesterday posted on Facebook that he would continue to fight to protect university autonomy.

Everything he believes in and thought he has had taken from him over the past four months, he wrote.

“It is no longer just about university autonomy, academic freedom, democracy and other shared values, but also about my personal values — what legacies I am creating through my choices and beliefs,” Kuan wrote.

His post came a day after he told the Central News Agency and other media that he would sue the government.

He had not decided whether to request a constitutional interpretation and was still in discussions with his lawyers, one report said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) also took to Facebook to criticize the ministry’s decision.

Minister of Education Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆) was appointed because he supports the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) plan to stop Kuan from becoming the university’s head, she wrote.

Wu had been a member of the ministry’s inter-ministerial task force on Kuan’s case, Ko wrote.

“As an expert on superconductivity, how would Wu be able to help decide whether to appoint Kuan? Does he have professional knowledge in the law or of Kuan’s role as an independent director?” she wrote.

The ministry’s reasons for not appointing Kuan had been fabricated to suit the DPP’s political agenda, she wrote.

“Wu has been the playwright, director and actor of this ugly drama,” she wrote.

Wu defended the ministry, saying it is not interfering with university autonomy and that it had “absolutely no political agenda.”

If the university was not willing to elect another president, then interim school president Kuo Tei-wei (郭大維) would have to convene a university council meeting to decide what to do, Wu said.

He had been asked to be on task force to examine Kuan’s alleged plagiarism, and after attending just one of its meetings he went abroad on business and had not expected to be asked to replace Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) after he resigned as minister.

In related news, the Taiwan Society and several other groups voiced support for the ministry’s decision and said Kuan’s supporters misunderstood the concept of university autonomy.

“If we are talking about university autonomy, we must not only talk about independence, because autonomy is also about democratic values — including the rule of the law and integrity,” Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-sen (張葉森) told a news conference in Taipei.

Kuan had tried to conceal the fact that he worked at Taiwan Mobile as an independent director, salary and auditing committee member and he failed to avoid a conflict of interest, as company vice chairman Richard Tsai (蔡明興) was a member of the university’s election committee, Chang said.

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