Taiwan's former education minister returns to post after 2018 resignation, NTU debacle

Taiwan's new premier Su Tseng-chang picked Pan Wen-chung to head the MOE to finish implementing policies begun under his previous leadership

Education Minister Pan Wen-chung, Jan. 14

Education Minister Pan Wen-chung, Jan. 14 (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Following the appointment of the new Premier of the Executive Yuan, Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), and the swearing in of new cabinet members the former Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) has returned to the position from which he resigned in April, 2018.

Pan has stated that in returning to the Ministry of Education (MOE), he will pick up where he left off and continue to implement the academic policies he had planned before stepping down last year.

Pan’s return comes after a nearly year-long debacle over the appointment of Kuan Chung-Ming (管中閔) as the new president of National Taiwan University. When pressed between forces on one side demanding the MOE refuse the appointment of Kuan, and the forces on the other side demanding the selection of NTU be honored, Pan chose, perhaps wisely, to step down from the office.

After the swearing in of the new cabinet under Premier Su, Pan reportedly said that the new Premier asked him to return to the position because many of his policy proposals were still in their initial stages when he stepped down, according to LTN.

The most significant policy change is the anticipated 12 year curriculum guidelines for public education, which are expected to be rolled out in August, 2019.

Pan said “time is tight” to get things in order and make sure the new policy, which includes budgeting for new textbooks and educational equipment, is successfully implemented.

Following Pan’s initial resignation from the office in April, two more Ministers of Education would end up resigning in 2018, as a result of the NTU debacle.

The previous Minister of Education, Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), ultimately decided to approve the appointment of Kuan as NTU president. He reportedly made the decision unilaterally, without first consulting former Premier Lai, or President Tsai, which led to confusion and some embarrassment for the administration, leading to his resignation on Christmas day.

According to a report from Apple Daily, Premier Su also re-appointed Pan to the office of Education Minister without consulting with President Tsai, who claimed she first knew of his return to the administration after reading about it in the newspaper.

As for Kuan, who took up the office and responsibilities of NTU President on Jan. 6, it appears the controversial story of his appointment may not be over.

On Tuesday, Jan.15, barely more than a week after taking office, the Control Yuan announced that Kuan had been impeached following a probe investigating illegal part-time work while serving in a previous government position.