Students urge transparent school affairs fund | A group of undergraduate and graduate students yesterday called for transparency in the budgeting and spending of the school affairs fund at tertiar

Students urge transparent school affairs fund

Students urge transparent school affairs fund

Students urge transparent school affairs fund

Students urge transparent school affairs fund

Students urge transparent school affairs fund

Students urge transparent school affairs fund
Students urge transparent school affairs fund
  • By: taipeitimes.com
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A group of undergraduate and graduate students yesterday called for transparency in the budgeting and spending of the school affairs fund at tertiary institutions, saying that funds are being used as university presidents’ “personal coffers.”

The fund, comprised of government funding and tuition fees, is being used by university presidents and reviewed by auditors they directly supervise, with no checks or balances, National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association chairman Wan Yu-chun (王昱鈞) told a news conference in Taipei.

Students at some universities have in the past few years called for new dormitories be built or traffic on the campus be improved, but the universities have repeatedly rejected the calls, saying they did not have enough money, Wan said.

“The opaque use of these funds raises the question of whether it has been misappropriated,” he said, citing a report about the National Taiwan University of Business’s alleged misuse of its fund, which Wan said shows that the mechanism is problematic.

He called on lawmakers to amend the National University School Affairs Fund Establishment Act (國立大學校院校務基金設置條例) to require that the budgeting and spending of such funds be reviewed by a panel comprised of members from all branches that take part in school affairs meetings, saying that without such a mechanism, the fund is susceptible to misuse.

Taiwan’s 49 national universities have about NT$113 billion (US$3.7 billion) at their disposal annually, National Taiwanese University College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professor Wu Ruey-beei (吳瑞北) said.

However, an amendment to the act in 2015 changed the way in which school affairs fund auditors are staffed, allowing them to be directly appointed by university presidents, Wu said.

This made the presidents both the users and auditors of their funds, which hurts the rights of the faculty and students alike, he said.

Following the example of National Taiwan University (NTU) president Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), many NTU faculty have used the phrase “university autonomy” when trying to justify the way in which its fund is used, but university autonomy does not equate to a university president having autonomy in spending the school affairs fund, NTU Students Association member Hsieh Pei-ling (謝佩玲) said.

Some NTU professors and officials have deliberately misled the media by downplaying the issue of university presidents having been given the power to appoint auditors for their funds, she said.

Alliance Against Commercializing Education member Lai Pei-lien (賴沛蓮) said that the funds were introduced to give universities leeway in limiting their expenses amid shortfalls in the central government’s budget for higher education.

However, this “capitalist mindset” has hurt the rights of lecturers and students at less popular departments, such as anthropology and mathematics, as they have not received funding, despite having made academic achievements, Lai said, calling for measures to be introduced so that each schools’ fund can undergo proper scrutiny.

JAN. 11 ELECTIONS: PFP mulled asking Ko to lead party, join race: Soong

JAN. 11 ELECTIONS: PFP mulled asking Ko to lead party, join race: Soong

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday said that the party last year considered asking Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) to lead it and become its presidential candidate in the Jan. 11 elections, adding that he did not know Ko would eventually establish a party himself.

“I had no idea that he would form a new party in August, which is not a good strategy,” Soong said, referring to Ko’s founding of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).

Soong revealed details of his interactions with Ko in an interview with political commentator Clara Chou (周玉蔻) in her morning radio talk show.

The PFP had been favoring Ko since before he was elected as mayor in 2012, Soong said.

“Last year, we started talking about our plans for the presidential election. At the time, I felt I needed to gradually phase out from the political scene in Taiwan. We then began to consider others to whom we could pass the torch of party chief and who could represent us in the presidential election. We eventually decided that if Ko wanted to form a partnership with us, he would be the party’s presidential candidate and we would recommend that Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) serve as his running mate,” Soong said.

Ko has never explicitly said that he was seeking the PFP’s nomination, Soong said.

When the two finally agreed to meet on May 1, Ko only asked when the PFP would announce its presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Soong said, adding that Ko did not ask him whether he would be running nor did he say that he would run himself.

As some have compared Soong to an Olympic athlete, as he has been running in presidential elections for 20 years, he said that he is running once again because people are looking for change, adding that people should not forget that he has made crucial contributions that helped Taiwan become a democratic nation.

On the party’s support for Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) now-dropped presidential bid, Soong said that what Taiwan needs are elites who know how to govern and have a thorough grasp of future trends in technology and the economy.

“What people are looking for is a capable leader who can implement policies, not a boxer beating the air,” he said, adding that people are “sick and tired” of having to choose between two equally bad political parties, referring to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

People would be underestimating the PFP if they think that the only reason that he is running this time is because the party has to secure seats in the Legislative Yuan, Soong said.

Taiwan has become an increasingly diverse society and voices of small parties should be heard, he said, adding that the party’s competitors are the DPP and KMT, not the TPP.

As for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and how they might affect cross-strait relations, Soong said the key to cross-strait relations lies in communication, rather than confrontation.

He is the better communicator when compared with the two other presidential candidates, Soong said.

As the PFP is to announce its list of legislator-at-large nominees today, Soong said that the nominees would be chosen in a transparent manner.

They should either be advocates of issues concerning socially disadvantaged people or work as professionals in technology or other disciplines, he said.

JAN. 11 ELECTIONS: TPP unveils legislator-at-large list with 29 names

JAN. 11 ELECTIONS: TPP unveils legislator-at-large list with 29 names

The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday announced its legislator-at-large nominees for the Jan. 11 elections, with Taipei Department of Labor Commissioner Lai Hsiang-lin (賴香伶) topping the 29-person list.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the TPP chairman, said that the average age of the nominees is 41.4 years, which is 25 years younger than that of another party, and that he is proud that many nominees were selected via an open audition.

It was not clear which political party Ko was referring to.

“We are recruiting talented people from the public. We do not care if the applying individual is rich or not, and we do not need them to donate NT$80 million [US$2.62 million] to guarantee them a ‘safe’ seat on the list,” he said, adding that the party recruited people based only on their talent and would pay the NT$200,000 registration fee for them.

The public’s wisdom can surpass an individual’s wisdom, so it conducted an open audition to choose at-large nominees for the first time in the nation’s political history, the TPP said.

“We hold the ideal of ‘open government, public participation, openness and transparency,’ and we are unfolding a ‘silent revolution’ stressing the importance of ‘national governance,’” it said.

Other female nominees include Hon Hai Technology Group Industrial Big Data Office vice president Ann Kao (高虹安) at No. 3, Ko’s close aide and Taipei City Government adviser Tsai Pi-ju (蔡壁如) at No. 5, Shin Kong Life Insurance Co deputy chief executive Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) at No. 7, and Taipei City Government deputy spokeswoman Huang Ching-ying, who gained popularity among young people online, at No. 13.

TPP Secretary-General Chang Jer-yang (張哲揚) said 17 nominees were selected through an open audition, and 15 people on the list are under 40.

National Sun Yat-sen University College of Social Science dean Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿), who was selected through an open audition, is No. 2.

When asked why the party nominated only 29 people, despite Ko repeatedly saying that it would nominate a full list of 34 candidates, Chang said there were other nominees, but his aides suggested dropping five of them to save NT$1 million in registration fees.

He was also asked about a rumor that some TPP members were unsatisfied with placing Kao, who is considered Hon Hai Precision Industry founder Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) aide, in a safe seat, as Gou’s aides were rumored to be also in safe seats on the People First Party’s (PFP) nominee list.

Ko said the PFP has not announced its list yet, and Gou had asked whether he wanted to switch the places of Kao with Tsai on the TPP’s list, but he thinks Kao has professional skills in big data and technology, and that having more professionals than politicians would be more beneficial for Taiwan.

Asked about PFP Chairman James Soong’s (宋楚瑜) remark yesterday that he had wanted to cooperate with Ko in the presidential election before Ko founded his own party, Ko confirmed that Soong had talked to him about the idea, but he only “listened and laughed,” because Soong did not give him a detailed proposal.

JAN. 11 ELECTIONS: Poll is for voters to side with democracy: Luo

JAN. 11 ELECTIONS: Poll is for voters to side with democracy: Luo

The Jan. 11 elections are for voters to side with democracy and choose parties that protect the nation instead of those that take China’s side, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Luo Wen-Jia (羅文嘉) said yesterday, pointing to anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

“Taiwanese have emotional feelings about what is happening in Hong Kong... The situation there could be better if the Hong Kong Legislative Council had a majority of democratic parties, then it [the territory’s government] could not do as it pleases,” Luo said at the launch of a campaign video at the DPP headquarters.

“Taiwanese should cherish our democratic system, with government by majority rule,” he said. “However, as we face intimidation from China, it is likely that our legislature will be comprised of many political parties after the election.”

“However, there are only two large party blocs in the legislature. One aims to safeguard Taiwan, while the other is pro-China. The two paths are totally different and there is no ambiguity between them,” he added.

The DPP is spearheading the movement to protect and defend Taiwan’s democracy, which is a different path from the other bloc, Luo said, urging people to vote the parties that safeguard Taiwan into a majority at the Legislative Yuan.

“We must unite together and consolidate the votes to bolster the legislative seats for parties that uphold progress and democracy,” he said.

The campaign video is centered around a “legislative seat,” in which people take turns sitting and voice their support in different cities.

It begins with three young people saying: “Do not be afraid, Taiwan will not become Hong Kong,” and a young woman saying: “Do not believe China. Please believe in democracy.”

At the end, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) says: “Please use your ballot to say ‘no’ to [China’s] ‘one country, two systems’ principle.”

Luo criticized the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for placing retired army general Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) in the No. 4 spot in its list of legislator-at-large nominees.

Wu is known for his pro-China and pro-unification stance, and has participated in China’s national day celebrations in Beijing.

“For most of the KMT’s history, its most important support came from people and groups defending the existence of the Republic of China [ROC]. Now with Wu placed near the top on the nominee list, the KMT is trampling the ROC under the feet of the People’s Republic of China [PRC]. It has abandoned the ROC,” Luo said.

“In the past, the ROC and PRC were adversaries, but with equal political standing. Now the KMT has gotten rid of the ROC, now there is only the PRC,” Luo added.

“Wu has visited China and sat among the audience to hear a speech by [Chinese President] Xi Jinping (習近平). He served as consultant for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. These are the facts and not mere labels imposed by others,” Luo said.

Many people have lost faith in the KMT, “because the KMT has been transforming into the Chinese Communist Party. This is not the original KMT, it has caused its supporters, who were defenders of the ROC, to have misgivings and despair.”

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