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NTU student association apologizes for protest faced by ex-premier

2018/12/19 17:58:38

Former Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) / CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 19 (CNA) National Taiwan University's (NTU) Political Science Student Association on Wednesday apologized for an incident that occurred at the school the previous day, when former Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) was forced to cut short a speech due to protests.

"As the organizers (of Jiang's appearance), we were responsible for maintaining order at the venue and protecting people's safety," the association said in a statement. "We are very sorry that we failed to prepare for this."

The apology was issued after Jiang was forced to end his address on the topic "Can political philosophy change the world?" which was scheduled for 100 minutes at NTU followed by a 30-minute question and answer session.

Jiang, a former NTU associate professor of political science, was less than half an hour into his speech when a group of students stormed the venue, surrounding him and shouting slogans in protest against his role in the eviction of student demonstrators from the Cabinet building during the Sunflower Student Movement in 2014.

The NTU students accused him of ordering the use of excessive force against the Sunflower Movement protesters.

Jiang cut short his speech and was quickly escorted away.

On Wednesday, he said he still hoped to exchange views with students on issues such as the Sunflower Movement and it was regrettable that he was unable to do that the previous day.

However, Jiang said, he is open to future opportunities for such discussions because he believes that young people are the future of Taiwan and the best way to resolve differences is through rational dialogue.

Earlier in the day, NTU said it welcomes and respects expressions of varying opinions, but that should be done rationally and should not interfere with the freedom of others to also express their opinions.

Also commenting on the issue Wednesday, Education Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) told reporters that people should have the freedom to express their opinions and discuss public issues, but they should do so with respect for each other.

NTU's Graduate Student Association, meanwhile, said in a Facebook post that Jiang should admit publicly to ordering "state violence" against the Sunflower Movement protesters and harming Taiwan's democracy.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was in office at the time of the Sunflower Movement, on Wednesday condemned the NTU student protest against Jiang, saying it was an infringement on academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Ma said he fully supported Jiang's decision to evict the Sunflower Movement protesters in 2014 and that he thought the current administration's decision not to pursue legal action against those demonstrators was ill-advised.

On March 23, 2014, a group of demonstrators stormed and occupied the Cabinet building, five days after they took similar action in the Legislature in protest against a services trade pact between Taiwan and China.

The next day, police fired water cannons to disperse the protesters at the Cabinet complex, an action that government officials at the time said showed self-restraint on the part of the police. The demonstrators, however, said it was a show of police brutality and "state violence."

(By Hsu Chih-wei, Lee Shu-hua, Fan Cheng-hsiang and Christie Chen)