Kuan defends role in presidential storm at university meeting

By Rachel Lin  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 - Page 3

National Taiwan University (NTU) president Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), in presiding over a school administrative meeting yesterday, spent 40 minutes defending his role in the controversy surrounding his election, but failed to appease student opposition.

Kuan was selected as the university’s president in January last year, but did not take up his responsibilities until the beginning of this year due to allegations of breach of research ethics, involvement in a conflict of interest as an independent director of Taiwan Mobile Co and contravention of the law by holding a teaching position at a university in China.

In December last year, then-Minister of Education Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) approved Kuan’s appointment, but required the school to submit a review after his first three months on the job, which is tomorrow.

At yesterday’s meeting, NTU Student Association director Wu Yi-jou (吳奕柔) asked Kuan to clarify whether he had lobbied for votes during the election, citing a leaked document that reportedly showed the voting inclination of each committee member.

Some parts of the document were true, but others did not make sense to him, Kuan said, adding that he had not been personally involved in the lobbying process.

Another student representative asked about Kuan’s failure to disclose his conflict of interest with Taiwan Mobile vice president Richard Tsai (蔡明興), an election committee member, as Kuan had served as an independent director at the company.

Working as an independent director did not breach school regulations, he said.

He had not had private contact with Tsai except at Taiwan Mobile board meetings and he had no knowledge of Tsai’s remarks at election committee meetings, Kuan added.

An independent director is not part of a company, but acts rather as an assessor, he said, adding that the Financial Supervisory Commission maintains tight control over listed companies.

He had not revealed his work as an independent director when recommended as a presidential candidate at NTU because the selection process only required his academic research results and administrative experience at academic institutions, he said.

Kuan asked attendees to remember Sept. 17, 2017, as the date when he joined the school’s selection process and was pushed into a “fiery pit.”

NTU electrical engineering professor Wu Ruey-beei (吳瑞北), previously an NTU presidential candidate, said Kuan should have defended himself at a news conference instead of taking over the meeting to get his points across.