Academia chiefs urge leniency in false claim case
The China Post news staff and CNATAIPEI, Taiwan -- The chiefs of Taiwan's top education authority, science council and research body issued a joint statement yesterday calling for proportional charges and understanding in the false receipt cases that shocked the nation's academia.
January 7, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
In the three-pointed statement, Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling, National Science Council (NSC) Minister Cyrus Chu and Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey called for prosecutors not to indict professors with corruption because the Fundamental Science and Technology Act stipulates that such charges do not apply to procurements for state-subsidized scientific projects.
The charges may mislead the international community into thinking that Taiwan is lagging behind in terms of legal development, leading to an impression of pervasive corruption among scholars, the statement said.
The statement said professors should be rightfully charged if they had used the funds for personal use, but it would be unfair and too harsh to file charges against people who bought equipment for research.
The three also urged legislative and justice authorities to better understand the nature of academia and vowed to hire lawyers to study the cases and to provide assistance to involved professors who used false receipts only to reimburse expenses for research-related materials and tools.
Changhua prosecutors on Friday indicted a dozen professors from four local universities, who were found to have submitted research projects to their respective schools, the ministry or the council between 2008 and 2010.
The professors allegedly then used false receipts from a New Taipei City company to claim reimbursements of between NT$50,000 and NT$500,000.
In a telephone interview with the Central News Agency yesterday evening, Chu pointed out that professors who pocketed money should be dealt with seriously for they are guilty of corruption. The recent indictments, however, involved false claims that took place before the NSC loosened its reimbursement rules last year. Chu said he could not understand why prosecutors chose to press charges on malpractices sprung from a bygone rigid system.
“It's like charging someone for past illegal deeds that are now considered legal,” he said, adding that the nation's laws should not only be those in the “Six Codes.” Consideration for current social situations is also important, he added.