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Education minister resigns over academic scandal

Taipei, July 14 (CNA) Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling resigned Monday over his connection to a local scholar who had several dozen research papers retracted from an international scientific journal because of alleged academic fraud.

Chiang said he will return to his teaching post at National Central University. He was president of the university in Jhongli, northern Taiwan, before joining the Cabinet in February 2012.

In a statement, Chiang explained that the decision to resign was made to uphold his own reputation and avoid unnecessary disturbance of the operations of the Education Ministry, given that the incident has ignited a wave of public criticism.

The papers in question were contributed by Peter Chen, a former associate professor of National Pingtung University of Education who resigned in February over the scandal.

Chiang was listed as a co-author, along with Chen, on several of the papers.

The papers, which were published in the the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC), were retracted earlier this month by SAGE Publications, which accused Chen of creating a number of false accounts to subvert the peer review process.

Chiang, who worked at National Central University when the papers were written, claims no knowledge about Chen's actions.

The implication of Chiang in the scandal triggered calls in the media and among his former colleagues for his resignation, however.

In an op-ed piece, former Science Minister Cyrus Chu said the claim of no knowledge, even if true, does not relieve Chiang of his responsibility in the scandal.

Chiang's resignation has been accepted by Premier Jiang Yi-huah, according to Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun.

Chen Der-hwa, a deputy minister, will take over as acting education minister until a formal replacement is named, Sun said.

Presidential Office spokesman Ma Wei-kuo, meanwhile, said President Ma Ying-jeou respects Chiang's decision and appreciates his efforts to reform pre-school and vocational education and promote the 12-year education program during his tenure.

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