Fri, May 25, 2018 - Page 3 News List

KMT lawmakers hound official over school probes

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Education Wu Maw-kuen, center, answers reporters’ questions yesterday during a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee in Taipei while Chinese Nationalist Party lawmakers hold signs that read: “Green terror humiliates educational circles.”

Photo: CNA

Minister of Education Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆) yesterday faced a barrage of criticism from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers in the Legislative Yuan over judicial investigations of high school and university officials.

Wu was asked to present the ministry’s policy and budget reports, and to answer questions at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee, but the session got off to a raucous start.

KMT lawmakers surrounded Wu to protest probes by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau (MJIB) into several school officials.

The investigations reportedly focus on the controversy over the election process for National Taiwan University (NTU) president and on high-school principals who have helped students apply for admission to Chinese universities.

Lawmakers accused Wu of failing to uphold academic freedom and university autonomy, saying he had colluded with the judiciary and should step down.

“The Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] administration has applied all kinds of political tools to block the appointment of NTU president-elect Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔). They are using the judiciary and political branches to meddle into university affairs. Does the government still think we have the rule of law in Taiwan?” KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said.

“Taipei prosecutors have contacted NTU election committee members and questioned them. This amounts to the judiciary making threats and abusing these school officials,” KMT Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said.

“Now we have ‘Green Terror,” which is worse than the ‘White Terror,’” she said.

That drew a rebuke from DPP Legislator Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱), who criticized the KMT legislators for making comparisons with the White Terror era, during which gross human rights abuses were committed by the then-KMT regime.

Lee also alleged that high-school principals were summoned by the bureau because they had written recommendation letters for students to apply for Chinese universities.

“Prosecutors issuing summons to question school principals, is this legal? This government is working to stem the free flow of talent in the private sector... Taiwanese democracy has slid back some 30-odd years since the DPP assumed power,” Lee said.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office released statements to clarify its moves, saying they were conducted in accordance with judicial procedures, since citizens have filed complaints against Kuan, accusing him of breach of trust, forgery, leaking confidential information and failing to disclose business affiliations during the NTU election process.

“Thus far, we have interviewed five of the 21 NTU election committee members. They were first contacted by telephone and told that they were being asked questions as witnesses in the case. They were well-informed of the procedure and it was done in conformity with standard judicial practices,” Taipei Deputy Chief Prosecutor Chou Shih-yu (周士榆) said on Wednesday.

“We had obtained their consent first and have taken every care to protect their privacy and ensure that the matter is kept under wraps and away from the public limelight,” Chou said.

“Most of them thanked prosecutors for keeping the details confidential and voiced their support for our work,” he said.

DPP caucus secretary-general Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) said that KMT lawmakers had misunderstood the situation.

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