MOE must trust NTU's selection of its president: official

2018/01/31 23:03:59 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔)/CNA file photo

Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔)/CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 31(CNA) The Ministry of Education must have faith in how the selection committee at National Taiwan University (NTU) handled the allegations against Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), the newly selected president of the university, a ministry official said Wednesday night.

"We must trust, to some extent, the final decision" made by members of the committee after their thorough discussions at a meeting that lasted for more than six hours, said Chen Kun-yuan (陳焜元), director of the Ministry of Education's (MOE) Department of Personnel.

He was referring to a meeting held by the committee earlier in the day to discuss the allegations against Kuan about a possible conflict of interest and plagiarism.

As of 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Chen said, he had not received the minutes of the meeting from NTU but when he does, the ministry will examine them carefully to determine whether the allegations against Kuan were cleared up by the committee as the ministry expected.

If the education ministry determines that the committee has indeed cleared up any doubts about Kuan, it will immediately begin processing the necessary paperwork for his appointment, Chen said.

The education ministry is scheduled to hold a ceremony on Thursday for the inauguration of new presidents of national universities but Kuan might not be among them as the ministry would not be able to complete the paperwork in time, Chen said.

At about 7:20 p.m., Chen Wei-cho (陳維昭), convener of the NTU selection committee, said at a press conference that Kuan's selection has been cleared.

"The committee has handled the selection of Professor Kuan in accordance with the relevant regulations and the legitimacy of the selection is beyond all doubt," he said.

Chen Wei-cho said the committee will respect the education's ministry's choice of a date for Kuan to assume office as that is within the ministry's mandate.

The committee held the impromptu six-hour meeting after the MOE on Monday advised that all the allegations against Kuan must be cleared up before the selection could be confirmed.

The selection process was first marred by a possible conflict of interest issue and later by allegations against Kuan of plagiarism.

In the first instance, Kuan did not tell the selection committee that he was at the time an independent member of the board of directors of Taiwan Mobile, a company that has as its vice chairman Richard Tsai (蔡明興), who is also on the NTU selection committee.

Two separate statements previously issued by the committee and NTU both brushed off the allegation that Kuan's withholding of the information should raise concerns over possible conflict of interest, partly because the information was already public knowledge.

However, Liu Ching-yi (劉靜怡), a professor in the university's Graduate Institute of National Development, disagreed with their defense, saying that many of the committee's members were unaware of the information when the vote was held.

Kuan was also accused by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) of plagiarism in a paper he jointly authored and published at a symposium co-hosted by NTU and Academia Sinica in May 2017.

While it appeared later that this allegation could be false because, according to NTU, the parts Kuan was accused of plagiarizing were actually taken from his unfinished paper, the way the NTU handled the issue has drawn the ire of academics.

According to NTU's previous statement in response to the plagiarism allegation, the university determined that there was no case to answer.

The rationale it gave was that the paper published at the conference did not meet the criteria for an academic paper.

Among those disapproving of NTU's decision was Lee Tun-hou (李敦厚), an honorary professor at Harvard University. Lee was recently quoted by the Chinese-language Liberty Times as saying that as a professor at Harvard for 30 years, he was ashamed to be an alumni of NTU for the university's assertion that a paper published at a conference was not an academic paper.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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