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MOE rejects NTU's presidential appointment, calls for do-over

2018/04/27 22:22

Photo courtesy of a contributing reader

Taipei, April 27 (CNA) The Ministry of Education (MOE) rejected on Friday the appointment of Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) as the president of National Taiwan University (NTU) and asked for the selection committee to start the selection process again.

The MOE made the decision not to approve Kuan after a series of allegations related to possible conflicts of interest in the selection process, plagiarism, and a teaching stint in China prevented him from taking office as previously scheduled on Feb. 1.

In a statement shortly after the MOE announced the decision, NTU panned the move in a statement, saying it was the result of politics intervening in academia.

In explaining the ministry's decision Friday evening, Deputy Education Minister Lin Teng-chiao (林騰蛟) focused on the conflict of interest problem as the main factor, questioning whether a conflict of interest was actually avoided during the selection process.

Lin offered no specifics but was referring to the fact that Kuan was an independent director on the board of Taiwan Mobile during the selection period, and Taiwan Mobile Vice Chairman Richard Tsai (蔡明興) sat on the NTU president selection committee.

Kuan's critics claiming a conflict of interest said Kuan did not tell the committee about his role in Taiwan Mobile, but the information was public knowledge at the time.

NTU and the committee both addressed the issue previously, and after deciding it was a non-issue decided to stand behind their decision to select Kuan as the university's president.

Following the MOE's decision not to approve his appointment, Kuan can still be considered as a candidate in a new selection process, Lin said.

The MOE is asking the selection committee to go through the process all over again, and if it is a fair process consistent with relevant regulations, and Kuan is still elected, then the ministry will approve his appointment, Lin suggested.

NTU responded soon after seeing Lin's statement, saying in a statement that it could not accept the result, which it called detrimental to the principle of university autonomy.

The statement said the university felt great regret and disappointment over the decision, which it said was the result of politics intervening in academia.

(By Chen Chih-chung and Kuan-lin Liu)Enditem/ls