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Education minister's resignation approved: Cabinet spokesman (update)

2018/05/29 17:36:35

Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆)/CNA file photo

Taipei, May 29 (CNA) Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) has approved the resignation of Education Minister Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆), Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Tuesday.

Wu, a member of Academia Sinica, took office on April 19, after his predecessor Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) stepped down on April 14 over the controversy surrounding the ministry's refusal to approve the appointment of National Taiwan University (NTU) President-elect Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔).

In a personal statement Wu put out through the MOE, he said the slander and humiliation he had been forced to endure during his month-long tenure as minister of education were the worst attacks on his character he had experienced in his life.

Since being appointed minister, Wu has been accused of engaging in many of the same kinds of activities the government has used to justify its opposition to Kuan, including working as an adviser to a Beijing-funded science institute.

According to Wu, these baseless accusations have tarnished his reputation and become an unnecessary distraction and burden for MOE staff as well as damaging the Cabinet.

He therefore offered his verbal resignation last weekend in the hope that once he stands down the attacks will stop and the ministry will be able to move on.

It was during Wu's time in office that the education ministry made its decision in late April to not approve Kuan's appointment because of what it said were violations by Kuan and asked NTU to restart the process to elect a new president.

The controversial decision was rejected by NTU, which called on the ministry to approve Kuan's appointment. A stalemate has existed since then.

Kuan was chosen by an NTU selection committee in early January.

In addressing the Kuan issue, Wu said in his statement that he did not become minister to block the NTU president-elect from taking office.

Rather, it has always been Wu's position that academic integrity is the foundation of university education, which is why anyone leading a school must meet relatively strict moral standards.

National Federation of Teachers Unions president Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭政) said in response to the news that it would have been better for the Cabinet and himself if Wu had resigned before May 20, President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) second anniversary in office, when changes to the Executive Yuan were expected.

Nonetheless, it is better that he is resigning now than not at all because the controversies during his tenure have been harmful to academia.

Chang Jung-hui (張榮輝), honorary president of the Secondary and Elementary School Presidents Association, said that if Wu remained it would not be good for himself or academia.

Although it is a shame to see so many people have such a negative impression of such a talented man, Chang supported Wu's resignation.

Both Chang and Gordon Hsieh (謝國清), chief executive of the National Alliance of Parents' Organizations, expressed hope that the new minister of education will be able to tackle curriculum-related issues that are in urgent need of reforming and move away from politics.

(By Ku Chuan, Phoenix Hsu, Evelyn Kao and Kuan-lin Liu)
Enditem/ls/AW