Minister of Education Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) yesterday said he had met with former National Taiwan University (NTU) president Chen Wei-jao (陳維昭) and several members of the university’s presidential election committee to discuss ways to resolve the election controversy at the university.
The Ministry of Education in April refused to approve Kuan Chung-ming’s (管中閔) election as NTU president, saying the election process was flawed because there was a conflict of interest as he was working at the time as an independent director at Taiwan Mobile Co.
In response, a group of NTU students, the university and Kuan himself have each filed an administrative appeal requesting that the ministry honor the election results and appoint him.
When media personality Clara Chou (周玉蔻) asked Yeh in an interview on her Hit FM radio show yesterday about reports that he had met with several NTU officials to discuss ways to resolve the current standoff, Yeh said that they had met and talked for about an hour.
Yeh said he and the officials had resolved to work out a solution together.
It must be resolved soon and in a way that does not contravene the law, while ensuring that students’ rights are protected, he said.
While the ministry could continue to demand that NTU hold another presidential election and allow the administrative appeals to drag on for years, Yeh said he hopes to work with the university to find another solution.
The controversy led to the resignation of Yeh’s predecessors as education minister — Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) in April and Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆) in May.
When asked if he would resign should the controversy remain unsolved, Yeh said: “Anything is possible.”
If one wishes to fix a problem, it is important to listen to the opinions of the other side rather than hiding away, he added.
Meanwhile, Kuan, who had remained silent for the most part since allegations over his eligibility surfaced in January, told US-based Chinese-language newspaper World Journal in an interview published yesterday that he had declined an invitation from Yeh to have a private discussion about the issue.
He was advised by his lawyer to not meet with Yeh because it would be hard to control how their meeting would be interpreted, he said.
“If he has already decided what he wants to do, what is the point of talking? Besides, I am not directly involved in the controversy. The ministry never contacted me to inform me of its decisions,” Kuan told the newspaper.
Hundreds of professors have doubled as independent directors or visited China for academic exchanges, but the government has chosen to target certain individuals, Kuan said, adding that because of the controversy many professors now fear running for university president or joining the election committee.
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