Protest to defend autonomy of National Taiwan University (4. May 2018)

These are photos which I took on 4.May 2018, but it took quite a long time until the film was full. Therefore I can show them only now. Unfortunately something went wrong with the exposure, and most of the photos are not correctly exposed. I assume that the camera (point-and-shoot with limited exposure speeds) was not able to handle the light conditions well. On this day it was overcast and very bright. However, I decided to show the photos because they document a historical event which happened on the campus of National Taiwan University in Taipei.

I took the photos shortly after lunchtime on 4. May 2018. They show the preparation for a large protest that happened in the evening of that day. The protest was to support the autonomy of the university. The background story was, that in January 2018 the new president of National Taiwan University (NTU) was elected. But the Ministry of Education (MOE) rejected the appointment of the new president on 24. April because of allegedly irregularities in the election process, and therefore request a new election. However, supporters of the president-elect and many academics believe, that the government should not interfere in decisions made by NTU and respect the autonomy of universities. This dispute culminated in a series of protests around 4.May 2018 and even led to resignation of Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) in April.

Brief summary of the whole story

On 5. January 2018 Kuan Chung-Ming (管中閔), a former Kuomintang (KMT) minister, was elected as the new president of the National Taiwan University. After the election there have been several accusations against Kuan, e.g. plagiarism, conflict of interest, and illegal employment at Chinese universities. The Ministry of Education (MOE) accused Kuan that he didn’t report his employment as board member of Taiwan Mobile. According to MOE there were other irregularities in the election process, for example Taiwan Mobile vice chairman Richard Tsai (蔡明興) was on the NTU election committee at that time. Supporters of Kuan argued, that a double standard was applied on him. It is not unusual for professors to work for companies as advisor or board member. Also teaching activities in Chinese universities are quite common for Taiwanese professors.

A recent investigation of the Control Yuan found that the university’s election process and the MOE regulations on university presidents were flawed. There is controversy about Kuan’s employment at Taiwan Mobile and whether or not NTU violated its own regulations. The report of the Control Yuan was not published yet.

At the day of writing this blog article the issue has not been solved.

Update December 2018

On 24. December 2018 the Ministry of Education announced that they appoint Kuan Chung-Ming as the new president of National Taiwan University. Shortly after the announcement the minister Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) resigned. He was the third minister of education who resigned over the issue of the newly elected NTU president. The Ministry of Education was not happy about the decision, because they are afraid, that in the future universities can elect their presidents, or make other decisions, without involving the ministry.

I think that the whole issue was purely political bullshit. After reading a lot about the whole situation and the reasons, why Kuan Chung-Ming was denied to become president, it seems to me, that this was only a power game of DPP against KMT. DPP tried very hard to avoid that a KMT person gets into this position. Unfortunately this is something that happens very often in Taiwanese politics. It is more important for the politicians to work against each other, rather than solving problems for the benefit of Taiwanese people.

Selection of newspaper articles to dig deeper into the whole story

Protestors call for university autonomy – in Taipei Times, 22. February 2018

Taiwan’s Minister of Education resigns over NTU president appointment controversy – in Taiwan News, 14. April 2018

Students at National Taiwan University march to defend school autonomy – in Sup China, 3. May 2018

Protesters converge at Nat. Taiwan University after controversial decision on president-elect – in Taiwan News, 5. May 2018

MOE has say in public university president appointment: Cabinet – Overseas Community Affairs Council, Republic of China (Taiwan), 14. May 2018

Minister confirms meeting with NTU election board – in Taipei Times, 24. July 2018

Control Yuan probe likely to find NTU, ministry at fault in election dispute – in Taipei Times, 24. July 2018

National Taiwan University: Kuan Chung-ming approved by MOE as NTU President – in Taiwan News, 24. December 2018

Ministry approves Kuan’s appointment – in Taipei Times, 25. December 2018

Cabinet accepts education minister’s resignation over National Taiwan University appointment – in Taiwan News, 25. December 2018

Yeh defends his decision on Kuan’s appointment – in Taipei Times, 26. December 2018

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