Vice minister named education head: Cabinet spokeswoman

Education Minister Yao Leeh-ter is seen in this undated file photo. Yao was nominated on Dec. 26 after Education Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong resigned a day earlier over controversy surrounding his approval of the appointment of Kuan Chung-ming. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) has agreed to Education Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong’s (葉俊榮) resignation and has named Vice Minister of Education Yao Leeh-ter (姚立德) as acting minister, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said on Dec. 26.

Yeh resigned a day earlier over the controversy surrounding his approval of the appointment of Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) as National Taiwan University (NTU) president Monday.

He was the third education minister to step down over the Kuan case, following Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) April 14 and Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆) May 29. Lai accepted Yeh’s resignation after a meeting to hear his decision on Kuan’s case and decided to let Yao take over as acting minister.

During the meeting, Yeh presented a resignation letter to Lai, which the premier accepted.

Yeh told the premier that he was sorry for the trouble caused by his decision, which he said was made to safeguard the rights of NTU students and the development of higher education.

Yeh announced at a press conference Monday that his ministry had reluctantly agreed to the appointment of Kuan as NTU president and that it would be up to the university to decide when the new president takes office.

The announcement ended a nearly year-long standoff over the appointment that was triggered when Kuan was elected as NTU president Jan. 5 but the Ministry of Education (MOE) declined to confirm Kuan’s appointment by a Feb. 1 deadline.

The ministry explained that the appointment was marred by conflict of interest in the selection process and other possible procedural violations, while NTU insisted on his appointment as a matter of university autonomy.

In April the ministry asked the university to restart the presidential selection process, but the university refused and filed an administrative appeal asking the ministry honor the election results and appoint Kuan, leaving the ministry and the university stalemated on the issue.

In the latest developments, the ministry sent an official document to NTU informing it of its decision on the appointment Tuesday and received a reply from the university later that day that Kuan is set to take up his post on Jan. 8, according to MOE Department of Personnel Director Chen Kun-yuan (陳焜元).

By Ku Chuan and Evelyn Kao