Education minister resigns over NTU president-elect appointment row

2018/04/14 13:20:42 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (CNA file photo)

Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (CNA file photo)

Taipei, April 14 (CNA) Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) on Saturday approved the resignation of Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), who decided to leave his post over the recent controversy surrounding the ministry's refusal to approve the appointment of National Taiwan University (NTU) President-elect Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔).

During a trip to Hualien, Lai told the media that Pan tendered his resignation two days ago and that he would respect Pan's decision.

Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) later confirmed to the media that Lai has approved Pan's resignation.

In a statement released to the media Saturday, Pan complained that the ministry's request for NTU and its presidential selection committee to look into alleged law violations involving Kuan has been subjected to constant "politicized attacks and defamation."

"After much deliberation, I decided to tender my resignation as minister, in the hope that all political manipulation will end here, allowing this case to return to the simple discussion of the president's selection process and the president-elect's qualifications," he said.

Kuan was selected on Jan. 5 to succeed Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池) whose tenure expired in June 2017 but has since been accused of plagiarism and conflicts of interest that have cast doubt on the legitimacy of his selection and prevented him from taking office on Feb. 1 as scheduled.

In March, more allegations surfaced accusing Kuan of having illegally taught in China since 2005.

Kuan, who served as minister of the National Development Council during the previous Kuomintang administration, dismissed the allegations as "political terror attacks." He urged the Education Ministry to approve his appointment based on the decision made by NTU's presidential selection committee.

Asked about the issue during a legislative hearing on Wednesday, Pan, however, said his ministry will not approve Kuan's appointment if the allegations are found to be true. He urged Kuan to come forward and give a clear explanation.

Due to the delay in approving Kuan's appointment, the Education Ministry has been accused of interfering in NTU's autonomy. A group of NTU professors, students and alumni jointly filed a complaint with the Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Thursday accusing Pan of nonfeasance.

(By Ku Chuan, Chen Chih-chung and Y.F. Low)
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