Taiwan Education Minister claims NTU debacle will be resolved soon

After nearly a year of controversy, Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong expressed confidence that the appointment of a new president for NTU would be concluded satisfactorily

Yeh Jiunn-rong

Yeh Jiunn-rong (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- According to the current Minister of Education of the Tsai administration, Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), the controversy surrounding the appointment and approval of the next president of National Taiwan University (NTU) will soon be resolved satisfactorily.

This is not the first time Yeh has made the claim that the dispute would be quickly settled, having made similar statements back in July, when he stepped in as acting Minster of Education following the resignation of Wu Maw-Kuen (吳茂昆).

This morning (Dec. 12) speaking before the Legislative Committee on Education and Culture, Yeh seemed to admit the resolution of the issue had been delayed because of concerns related to the recent elections.

The Minister said that the process of appointment by the NTU selection committee previously exhibited several problems, which forced the Ministry to nullify the previous results.

Yeh said he recognized the importance of reaching a satisfactory result in this situation, as it represents a serious matter of public policy that needs to be clarified and resolved “according to appropriate procedure.”

The NTU selection committee must simply repeat the selection process one final time and the issue will be resolved, says Yeh.

The controversy over the selection and subsequent refusal of the Ministry of Education to approve the appointment of Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) as NTU president, has been simmering for most of 2018. Kuan had failed to reveal during the selection process that he was serving as an outside board member at a Fubon Group affiliate, while one of the financial group's top owners sat on the NTU selection committee, leading to accusations of conflict of interest. Later it was also revealed he had taught at universities in China, in an apparent contravention of rules guiding university professors in Taiwan.

Over the past 11 months, the debacle has resulted in the resignation of two Ministers of Education under unfavorable circumstances, as well as sizable protests and factionalism on the campus of Taiwan’s top university. The saga also spurred the formation of a new University Alliance established to oppose alleged government interference in campus affairs.

After the initial rejection of NTU’s candidate, the NTU University Affairs Committee remained committed to their candidate, effectively challenging the decision of the Ministry.

For many, the issue was seen as an influential factor in the results of the recent nine-in-one elections.

CNA reports that in Yeh’s remarks Tuesday morning, he emphasized that a satisfactory conclusion would be reached once the NTU selection committee reconvenes to complete a new selection process and follows proper procedure.

Yeh made no indication as to whether the government would accept or refuse the appointment of Kuan Chung-ming if he is once again selected by the university.

Previously, Kuan said he was considering dropping his case pending election results. However with the success of the Kuomintang (KMT) party in the nine-in-one elections, he is likely willing to once again step forward for consideration by NTU should a new selection procedure be conducted. Kuan served as a minister in KMT administrations.