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Academia Sinica academician appointed minister of education

2018/04/16 19:46:06

Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆/CNA file photo)

Taipei, April 16 (CNA) Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆), an academician at Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institute, has been appointed as education minister, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) announced Monday.

Hsu praised Wu for his distinguished contributions and experience in the areas of higher education and scientific research, describing him as "very suitable to serve as education minister."

Wu is scheduled to take office on Thursday.

The physicist was named to take over the post left vacant by Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), who resigned last week over controversy surrounding his alleged interference in the appointment of National Taiwan University (NTU) President-elect Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔).

Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) approved Pan's resignation on Saturday. He said the next day that the role of education minister carries heavy responsibility, and that whoever takes over the position is tasked with far more duties than simply resolving the NTU predicament.

Wu, aged 68, holds a doctoral degree in physics from the University of Houston in the United States and has served as head of the now-defunct National Science Council, the Institute of Physics under Academia Sinica and National Dong Hwa University in Hualien County.

The National Science Council was upgraded and renamed the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2014.

Pan drew public criticism over his refusal to approve the appointment of Kuan, who was selected Jan. 5 to succeed Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池), whose tenure as NTU president expired in June 2017.

Kuan, however, has since been accused of plagiarism and conflict of interest, which has cast doubt on the legitimacy of his selection and prevented him from taking office Feb. 1 as scheduled.

In March, more allegations surfaced accusing Kuan of having illegally taught in China since 2005.

Although the accusations were later all resolved, Pan continued to ask Kuan to come forward and give a clear explanation of the allegations.

Due to the delay in approving Kuan's appointment, the education ministry has been accused of interfering in NTU's autonomy. A group of NTU professors, students and alumni jointly filed a complaint with the Taipei District Prosecutors Office April 12 accusing Pan of nonfeasance.

(By Elaine Hou and Elizabeth Hsu)