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President urges Education Ministry to talk after student suicide

2015/07/30 17:35:08

Education Minister Wu Se-hwa (吳思華)

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) The Ministry of Education (MOE) should hold talks with students who are opposed to controversial revisions in the guidelines for the high school history curriculum, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Thursday after one of the students involved in a protest movement over the issue committed suicide.

Ma said he felt profound grief upon learning that Lin Kuan-hua (林冠華) was found dead earlier in the day in what was believed to be a suicide, and asked the ministry to hold face-to-face talks with the students as soon as possible to resolve the problem.

There should be a balance between support for the freedom of speech and a society ruled by law in the exchange of ideas, Ma stressed.

On his 20th birthday, Lin was found dead by emergency workers summoned by his mother, according to the New Taipei Fire Department. He had apparently locked himself in a room and taken his own life by burning charcoal.

A student at a vocational high school in New Taipei, Lin took time off from school in June to spend more time in the movement against controversial revisions in the guidelines to the high school history curriculum.

He was released on NT$20,000 (US$634) bail after being detained for around 20 hours for storming the MOE building late on July 23.

He was one of 33 people arrested in the early hours of July 24 for breaking into the building and was facing possible prosecution along with 23 other intruders.

Presidential candidates Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) of the ruling Kuomintang and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), both expressed sorrow over the tragedy.

Hung expressed hope she and Tsai can have a debate over the curriculum issue, but Tsai said there is no rush for this and that Hung should instead listen to what the younger generation has to say.

Meanwhile, Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said he has instructed the ministry to offer the necessary help to the student's family.

Lin was said to have been feeling depressed. His mother said she was sufficiently concerned the previous day that she stayed up with him until 2 a.m.

(By Lu Hsin-hui, Hsieh Chia-chen and Lee Hsin-Yin)