Education ministry rejects NTU President pick

In a stunning violation of university autonomy yesterday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education refused to appoint Kuan Chung-ming as the new National Taiwan University (NTU) President, citing flaws in the selection process, after the university’s search committee made its decision from eight candidates in January this year. NTU protested the decision.

The controversy stemmed from Kuan serving as an independent board member for mobile phone operator Taiwan Mobile during the selection process, while one of the search committee members is deputy chair of Taiwan Mobile’s board of directors, creating a potential conflict of interest. Legislators from the governing DPP further accused Kuan of scholastic dishonesty (NTU response) and illegal teaching in China. Continue reading “Education ministry rejects NTU President pick”

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Labor law change sparks protests and police action scrutiny

As the Tsai administration and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) prepares to pass amendments to the Labor Standards Act, the law that governs employer-employee relationship and workers’ rights in Taiwan, protests and demonstrations have followed over remarks from officials and the proposed changes, seen as catering to business demands. Low wages and long working hours have long been the norm for the Taiwanese work force, but expectations from the younger generations seem to make the status quo untenable.

This culminated to yesterday, where over 10,000 demonstrators protested the changes at various places in Taipei. New Bloom’s detailed account is worth a read. While police declared parts of the protests illegal due to an unapproved route change, the Taipei Bar Association and rights groups have accused the police of illegally detaining and transporting several demonstrators and volunteer lawyers at the scenes of protest and demanded apologies from the government.

Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage

After hearing oral arguments on the case concerning same-sex marriage brought by activist Chi Chia-wei and Taipei City Government two months ago, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court today ruled that the marriage chapter of the Civil Code, which states marriage as between “the male and the female parties,” to be unconstitutional. (Read the Court’s English press release.)

In its Interpretation 748, the Court contends that Part IV Chapter II of the Civil Code on marriage violates ROC Constitution Article 22, protecting people the freedom of marriage, and Article 7, stating all ROC citizens to be equal. The Court rules that relevant authorities must amend or enact laws within two years to protect the right of marriage for same-sex couples. However, the Court did not specify whether the parliament should amend the Civil Code, add additional articles allowing same-sex marriage, or to create a separate law allowing same-sex civil union. Continue reading “Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage”

Chinese Taipei?

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Every four years, whenever the Summer Olympics comes along*, I inevitably get the question, “why is Taiwan called Chinese Taipei in the Olympics?”

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Taiwan’s official flag, Chinese Taipei Olympic flag, and the Olympics rings

CNN provides an explanation for this, but I want to give it more context. Continue reading “Chinese Taipei?”

Tsai Ing-wen’s inaugural address

tsaiTsai Ing-wen was sworn in as President of Taiwan today in a ceremony at the Presidential Office in Taipei, becoming the first female to lead the country. The ceremony included performances from the joint military marching band of Taiwan’s armed forces, a presentation on Taiwan’s history featuring a questionable and offensive sinocentric narrative (especially in regards to the indigenous populations of Taiwan), which was only saved by the performances of Panai Kusui, Sheng Xiong Band, Fire EX, and the sounds of Timur Elementary School Chorus and Puzangalan Children’s Choir later on (their rendition of the national anthem is particularly worth listening to).

But perhaps the most anticipated part of the ceremony to international observers was President Tsai’s inaugural address. China has openly called for Tsai to endorse the so-called 1992 Consensus, under which the Kuomintang and Chinese Communist Party both recognize Taiwan and the mainland as part of “one China” but each side has its own understanding of what that means. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party disputes the existence of a consensus, while much of Taiwan’s population doesn’t have a clear understanding of what the consensus explicitly refers to as “China”. To the rest of the world, “China” clearly refers to the PRC, and the Taiwanese people definitely do not agree that Taiwan is a part of the PRC. Continue reading “Tsai Ing-wen’s inaugural address”

Taiwan Presidential Inauguration Live Streaming

Taiwan President-elect Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President-elect Chen Chien-jen will take their oaths of office on 20 May 2016. The inauguration ceremony will be streamed live on the website of the Presidential Office, YouTube, and Hievent. The ceremony is expected to start at 9 am Taiwan Time (GMT+8). Tsai’s inauguration speech is expected to outline her vision for governing the country as well as how her government plans to handle cross-strait relationship. Delegations from around the world have already arrived in Taipei and will attend a state banquet on the same day.

Tsai Ing-wen, 59, is the current chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party, which holds majority in the Legislative Yuan. She is the first female and fourth person to be directly elected to the office of the President of the Republic of China, after Lee Teng-hui (1988-2000), Chen Shui-bian (2000-2008), and Ma Ying-jeou (2008-2016). Dr. Tsai is single, but has two cats and will be adopting three retired service dogs, all Labradors.