Students at National Taiwan University march to defend school autonomy
Students at the prestigious National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei are planning a protest â" dubbed the âNew May Fourth Movementâ â" on Friday, May 4, to object to the Taiwanese governmentâs interference in the election of the schoolâs president.
The organizers condemn the âgovernmentâs attempt to undermine university autonomy.â Their main complaint is that Taiwanâs Ministry of Education has been attempting to delegitimize NTUâs election of Kuan Chung-ming ç®¡ä¸é" as its new president. Kuan, a former Kuomintang (KMT) minister, was elected on January 5 by 21 members of the schoolâs Presidential Search Committee. Since then, the Ministry of Education has accused him of ethical lapses, and said there was a conflict of interest with one of the voting members of the Presidential Search Committee, according to the Taipei Times.
Kuanâs defenders say he is being smeared in a political campaign. Hundreds of students and school faculty members are expected to march on campus on Friday in protest. They will read out loud a âNew May Fourth Manifestoâ (æ°äº"åè¿å¨å®£è¨ xÄ«n wÇ"sÃ¬ yÃ¹ndÃ²ng xuÄnyÃ¡n) and hold a candlelight vigil. The New May Fourth Manifesto reads (in Chinese):
Former school president Fu Sinian å æ¯å¹´ once said that NTU can never be used for non-academic purposes. But today, the governing body of Taiwan has exploited our school for its political ambitions, dragging students and teachers at NTU and all Taiwanese people into a perilous situation of internal friction and fightingâ¦ With profound grief, we need to recognize that what NTU is experiencing is a warning about higher education in Taiwan and a window into the future of Taiwan.
After Kuanâs election in January, the Education Ministry, which is currently controlled by the KMTâs rival Democratic Progress ive Party (DPP), refused to allow him to take office, saying that the selection process was flawed and Kuan was unqualified for the job, citing a variety of unverified allegations.
Kuan Chung-ming ç®¡ä¸é" and NTU students
On April 27, the ministry announced that NTU would have to elect a new president. The decision triggered a wave of anger from Kuanâs supporters, with many accusing the government of meddling in university autonomy based on its political interests. Wu Maw-kuen å³èæ, minister of education, said on April 29 that the allegations against Kuan were valid and that the ministry has ânever interfered with university autonomy,â but an increasing number of student advocates and intellectuals have been coming forward to denounce the decision.
Wu Maw-kuen å³èæ
Sun Chen å«é, former NTU president, held a press conference on Wednesday to voice his disappointment at the ministry. âThe ministryâs decision was against the public interest, against the law and not based on truth,â Sun said. âThis political and legal controversy will not end until Minister of Education Wu Maw-kuen steps down and the Executive Yuan apologizes.â
Meanwhile, NTU students have been putting up yellow banners and ribbons on campus to support Kuan. âUniversity autonomy. Give back our president,â a banner reads.
Outside NTU, an alliance has formed against the ministry. On April 28, the Association of National Universities of Taiwan released a statement in defense of university autonomy, saying that the majority of its over 50 members r egarded the ministryâs decision as invalid. During the weekend, National Tsing Hua University also issued a declaration, calling on Taiwanese politicians to stop meddling in university affairs.
National Tsing Hua University faculty and studentsSource: Google News Taiwan | Netizen 24 Taiwan