Taiwan Government and International – October 2018

RESIGNATION - Vice chairman of the Transitional Justice Commission Chang Tien-chin stepped down over inappropriate comments. Photo: CNA

Transitional Justice Vice Chair Resigns

Vice chairman of the Transitional Justice Commission (TJC) Chang Tien-chin resigned over comments, made at a private meeting that were leaked to the press, in which he proposed using the TJC to smear a candidate in the November elections. The TJC, under the Executive Yuan, is an independent body charged with investigating abuses committed during the White Terror period when Taiwan was a one-party state ruled by the Kuomintang (KMT).

In the comments recorded August 24, Chang is heard criticizing KMT candidate for New Taipei City mayor Hou You-yi as “the worst example of transitional justice” for Hou’s role as leader of the police team that attempted to arrest Taiwan independence proponent Cheng Nan-jung in 1989. Cheng immolated himself rather than face arrest and is considered a martyr for Taiwan’s democracy. Cheng’s remarks were roundly criticized by leaders of both the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the KMT, and candidate Hou said it was “regrettable” that the TJC was being deployed as a political tool.

CONTINUING CONTROVERSY – At a news conference, Education Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong explains his proposal for resolving the dispute over the NTU presidency. Photo: CNA

Moe Seeks End to NTU Election Standoff

Education Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong’s efforts to solve the National Taiwan University (NTU) presidency stand-off have been met with criticism from all sides, and a solution appears to remain out of reach. Kuan Chung-ming, current chairman of NTU’s Department of Finance and former minister of the government’s National Development Council, was elected president of Taiwan’s top university on January 5 this year. His election was mired in controversy after it was revealed that he was an independent director of Taiwan Mobile Co. at the time, while company vice president Richard Tsai served on the NTU election committee, sparking allegations of conflict of interest. The Ministry of Education (MOE) demanded that the university redo its election, but the university has refused, requesting that the ministry accept the election results and certify Kuan as president. Seeking a compromise, Yeh on September 13 proposed that NTU redo the election from among the five candidates on the original short list, with Taiwan Mobile vice president Tsai abstaining. The university responded by calling the request unethical and unlawful. Some NTU student groups, meanwhile, are calling for an entirely new election excluding Kuan.

Japanese Office Defaced Over Comfort Women

A right-wing Japanese politician’s disrespect to a statue honoring Japan’s wartime sex slaves, “comfort women,” outside of KMT offices in Tainan sparked an uproar in Taiwan that has led to protests and the defacement of the Japanese trade office in Taipei. Japanese politician Mitsuhiko Fujii was filmed kicking the statue, which he later demanded be removed. The incident sparked a protest outside the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association on September 10 that led to a clash between demonstrators and police. The protesters demanded that Fujii be barred from leaving Taiwan until he kneels before the same statue and offers an apology. Afterward, four members of the anti-Japanese protest group were arrested for defacing the building where the Japanese representative office is located with yellow and white paint. Government officials accused the opposition KMT of fomenting controversy over the incident in the buildup to the November elections, while the KMT has accused the government of ignoring the feelings of the nation.