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Ministry asked to apologize over interference in student movement

2012/12/02 18:11:25

Taipei, Dec. 2 (CNA) Several professors demanded Sunday the Ministry of Education apologize over what they described as the ministry's interference in a student protest held over concern about media monopolization.

Professors from National Cheng Kung University, National Chengchi University and Fu Jen Catholic University said in a joint press conference that the ministry should apologize over sending an email to universities, the content of which they described as reminiscent of the Kuomintang-instigated "White Terror" era in Taiwan.

In an email dated Nov. 29, the ministry's Student Affairs Committee director, Yang Chih-chung, told school authorities "to take note of and show concern for students" who participated in the rally earlier that day in front of the Cabinet and the Legislature to protest the sale of the Hong Kong-based Next Media Group's businesses in Taiwan.

The letter said ministry officials were "concerned about the health of the students as it has been raining and cold for the past several days in Taipei."

Even more chillingly, the letter also attached a list of names of students who had participated in the rally.

Leung Man-to, a political science professor at National Cheng Kung University, said the ministry's move was unnecessary and represented oppression of freedom of speech.

The ministry's move has also caused panic among both students and their parents, who are now afraid that their sons and daughters might be punished for participating in the rally, he said.

Whether the ministry intentionally or unintentionally caused the fear among the student community, Leung said, it should publicly apologize for its behavior and should vow never to punish students who participated in such movements.

He added that 36 scholars have signed the petition and said the signature drive will continue until the ministry makes a public apology.

The sale of the China-critical Next Media Group's media outlets in Taiwan has caused quite a stir in the country due to the involvement of the China-friendly Want Want China Times Group, Taiwan's largest media firm.

Protests were held against the deal as many fear it will hurt the independence of the Taiwanese media. The deal still needs to be approved by the Taiwanese authorities.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and Ann Chen)