Curriculum debate may see extra legislative hearing
Talks between MOE head & protesters break down, guidelines to take effect today
Legislative Speaker Wang Jinpyng ( ) announced yesterday that a meeting may be held to discuss an extra legislative session to debate the controversial high school curriculum guidelines, after talks between Education Minister Wu Se-hwa ( ) and student protesters fell through.
Wang said he hopes to see a delayed implementation of the curriculum to allow for discussion with executive branch officials. He said that his proposed meeting between party caucuses to discuss an extraordinary session of the Legislature to debate the controversial changes to the high school curriculum has been tentatively scheduled for Aug. 4.
The curriculum is set to go into effect today, a move approved by Taipei High Administrative Court.
The talks led by Wang were spurred on by the demands made by the protesters for an extra legislative session to discuss a delayed implantation of the curriculum.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus voted to support calling on the speaker to hold the extra legislative debate, while the Kuomintang (KMT) has stated it plans to hold a party meeting to discuss holding an extra legislative sessions Aug. 3. Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU,
) caucus whip Lai Zhen- chang ( ) said that Minister Wu expressed concerns about the discussions, saying that delaying the curriculum would result in students unable to get their textbooks, which were already printed, because the guidelines were announced last February.
Wu and student representatives briefly exchanged words on the steps of the Ministry of Education (MOE) building prior to a prenegotiation meeting led by Wang, yesterday. But the talks quickly fell apart after he told students to “sit down and rationally” discuss the curriculum and talked about his “political responsibility,” which angered the protesters, who were angered that Wu had not met their demands, namely that the curriculum be withdrawn and the minister step down.
After the failed meeting, Wu returned inside the MOE building. Wu had not made any additional
comment as of press time.
Demonstrations at MOE
Following news of high school curriculum activist and student Lin Kuan-hua’s ( ) apparent suicide, protests escalated to the point where activists broke through fences set up in front of the MOE and occupied its front steps yesterday morning, where they are still peacefully demon- strating under the supervision of the police as of press time.
While both the Presidential Office and the Cabinet have said they stand by Wu, Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (
) reiterated that the “old and new curriculums” are to be used, and that exams should not cover the controversial material.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je
) promised not to “use excessive police force,” and as long as the “students remain peaceful and calm, the police will not drive them away,” during his brief visit to the MOE building.
Prior to the demonstrations in the MOE’s front courtyard, protesters briefly rallied in front of the Legislative Yuan after scaling its fences on July 30.
Education Minister Wu Se-hwa ( ) listens to a protester yesterday on the steps of the Ministry of Education (MOE). Anti-curriculum protesters have been occupying the front courtyard of the MOE since yesterday. Protests continued yesterday after a brief talk with the minister fell apart after Wu asked for rational discussion with the activists.