Control Yuan passes motion to impeach new NTU president

Kuan Chung-ming, the new president of National Taiwan University, is seen in this file photo amid reports that the Control Yuan, the main watchdog body responsible for the discipline of government officials, passed a motion to impeach the new NTU president in a 7-4 vote one week after he took office as NTU president. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Control Yuan passed a motion on Jan. 15 to impeach Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), the new president of National Taiwan University (NTU), over an alleged violation of a law that bans public servants from taking side jobs.

The Control Yuan, the main watchdog body responsible for the discipline of government officials, passed the motion in a 7-4 vote one week after Kuan took office as NTU president.

In a statement, the Control Yuan said Kuan was found to have been writing editorials “regularly” and “anonymously” for the weekly Next Magazine in the period Feb. 6, 2012 to Feb. 3, 2015, while he was a high-ranking government official.

From those editorials, Kuan was earning an extra income of NT$650,000 (US$21,090) per year, which was a violation of the Public Servant Work Act that prohibits public servants from “taking side jobs,” the Control Yuan said.

It said Kuan had “seriously damaged civil service discipline and protocol.” “Given his serious misconduct,” Kuan will be impeached based on the law, the Control Yuan said.

At a press conference after the impeachment motion was passed, Control Yuan member Tsai Chung-yi (蔡崇義) said writing occasional columns or opinion pieces anonymously on political issues in and of itself is not deemed as a side job.

In Kuan’s case, however, he was writing regularly and receiving NT$50,000 per month for his articles, which was defined as a side job, Tsai said, citing the findings of the Control Yuan’s investigation.

Kuan, 62, took up a post as a minister without portfolio on Feb. 6, 2012 and was offered a concurrent position on Feb. 18, 2013 as minister of the now-defunct Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD).

When the CEPD became the National Development Council on Jan. 22, 2014, Kuan remained as its head until Feb. 3, 2015.

The decision on his impeachment will now be delivered to the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission under the Judicial Yuan, which will decide if he had violated the law and what punishment should be imposed in such a case.

Under the Public Functionaries Discipline Act, Kuan may be fired or suspended from his post, demoted, given demerits, or stripped of his retirement pension if it is found that he had violated the law.

Commenting on the issue, Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator and caucus whip, suggested that Kuan resign as NTU president to avoid disgracing NTU, Taiwan’s top ranked university.

Meanwhile, Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Chen Yi-min (陳宜民) said he will respect the findings of the Control Yuan’s investigation once they are based on solid evidence.

On Jan. 8, Kuan officially assumed the post as NTU president, ending a nearly year-long standoff between NTU and the Ministry of Education (MOE) over his appointment following his selection by a committee at the university on Jan. 5, 2017.

Following his election, Kuan was due to assume office less than a month later but the MOE refused to approve his appointment, citing flaws in the selection process, while NTU insisted on academic autonomy.

The controversy led to the resignation of three education ministers, Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆), and Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), with the latter resigning on Dec. 25 last year, one day after approving the Kuan’s appointment.

Critics have said the DPP government’s year-long rejection of Kuan was politically motivated because of his association with the China-friendly KMT.

Since Kuan was named as NTU president, he has been plagued by allegations of misconduct that included lecturing illegally at universities in China. His alleged job at Next Magazine was revealed on the day when he finally took office as NTU president.

By Yu Hsiang, Ku Chuan, Chen Chih-chung, Wang Yang-yu, Fan Cheng-hsiang, Chen Chun-hua and Elizabeth Hsu