National Taiwan University (NTU) president Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) was yesterday reprimanded by the Commission on the Disciplinary Sanctions of Public Functionaries for illegally taking on a part-time job while serving as a government official from 2014 to 2015.
From January 2014 to February 2015, as minister without portfolio and head of the National Development Council, Kuan was hired by Next Magazine to write anonymous editorial pieces on a biweekly basis, Court of the Judiciary Chief Clerk Lin Yu-ping (林玉苹) told a news conference at the commission following the ruling.
During that period, Kuan wrote 27 articles for the magazine and was paid NT$25,000 for each, she said.
By taking on part-time work outside his government duties, Kuan breached Article 14, Paragraph 1 of the Civil Servant Work Act (公務員服務法), she said.
The part-time job was in conflict with the nature of Kuan’s work as a government official and seriously tarnished the government’s image by giving the impression that officials were distracted from their duties due to a lack of discipline, she said.
Asked whether the ruling would affect Kuan’s position as university president, Lin said that the issue is not within the commission’s jurisdiction.
“Receiving a reprimand could affect a public servant’s performance reviews,” she said.
Kuan began working part-time for the magazine before February 2012, when he became minister without portfolio, and under the new Public Functionaries Discipline Act (公務員懲戒法), which took effect this year, public servants cannot be punished for things that took place more than five years ago, the commission said in a news release.
The Control Yuan in January passed a decision to impeach Kuan for breaching the Civil Servant Work Act and transferred the case to the commission for review.
Under the Public Functionaries Discipline Act, a public servant can be punished by dismissal, demotion, suspension, a reduction in salary, receipt of a demerit or a reprimand — with the last being the least severe punishment.
The Control Yuan respects the commission’s decision and hopes that Kuan would accept the ruling and not breach the act again, Control Yuan members Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲) and Tsai Chung-yi (蔡崇義) said in a statement.
Although Kuan had three times refused to report to the Control Yuan for questioning and described himself as a victim in the process, investigations found that he had consistently worked for the magazine over the three-year period, they said.
“The ruling is unacceptable,” said Chen Hsin-hung (陳信宏), Kuan’s lawyer. “It fails to ensure people’s freedom of speech.”
He and other lawyers are to determine whether to appeal after carefully studying the ruling, he said.
Kuan yesterday posted on Facebook that “even a white jade can be tarnished by a fly,” quoting Tang Dynasty poet Chen Ziang (陳子昂).
The sentence, written while Chen was in prison, is widely interpreted as a criticism of unfair political persecution that the poet suffered at the time.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said that it respects the ruling and would deliver related documents to NTU after receiving them from the commission.
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