John Kuan (關中)

John Kuan (關中) is Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou’s nomination for Examination Yuan president.

The Examination Yuan is a unique aspect of government in the Republic of China. It has the same status in governance as the Legislative Assembly and the Executive Yuan (cabinet). Its website states that,

According to the ROC Constitution, the Examination Yuan is the highest examination and personnel organization of the nation. Under the Examination Yuan are the Ministry of Examination, the Ministry of Civil Service, the Civil Service Protection and Training Commission, and the Supervisory Board of the Public Service Pension Fund….formulate administrative guidelines and plans, as well as examinations and civil service policies. They also oversee related policies, laws and regulations, and auxiliary administrative matters hand;led by the Yuan’s subordinate agencies.

My position on the Examination Yuan is that its development has been crucial to the emergence of the contemporary Republic of China. Along with the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Examination Yuan has been instrumental in the construction of a system of examination and testing. It was from these organizations that the ROC’s unique relationship between employment and examination emerged regulating the definition of legitimate knowledge in a way quite different from that found in Western nations. Over the years, the KMT have used this system for various political programs, including limiting access to the middle-class and constructing its version of a Chinese culture in Taiwan.

As such, the Examination Yuan is an extremely important aspect of government in Taiwan and its president an extremely influential person.

Kuan was recruited to work for the KMT in 1977 at the age of 37, a few years after he returned to Taiwan from earning his PhD at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He has served as the Examination Yuan vice-president and minister of civil service. Dr. Kuan is extremely close to the KMT. He is the current vice-chairman of the KMT , and has served as a director of the National Research Institute (國家發展研究院), a training base for the KMT’s campaign staff. He is a strong supporter of Lien Chan.

Dr. Kuan is a major supporter of policy to recognize degrees granted by Chinese universities,

President Ma is concerned that there are some 7,000 Taiwanese students studying in China. If we don’t recognize their degrees from schools in China, they will not be able to participate in any of our national examinations. This would be a big loss for us.

Kuan’s appointment is extremely controversial. The DPP is “100 percent opposed to Kuan taking over at the Examinationm Yuan.”, stating that President Ma has promised not to appoint a KMT party member to head the examination Yuan and is breaking his promise.

Most significant is Dr. Kuan’s connection to corruption in the party. Kuan has a long relationship with accusations of vote buying. He was originally forced to resign from a senior position in the party due to accusations of vote buying in the late 1980s. He was appointed vice-president of the Examination Yuan in 1999 by then President Lee Tung-Hui, but was forced to resign the next year. The recent rise of Lien Chan and Ma Ying-Jeou to leadership positions in the KMT has allowed Kuan to resume his position of influence. Kuan is widely seen as one of the ‘fathers of black gold‘ politics- referring to the KMT’s widespread use of cash and patronage to win elections. His role in the campaigns of local elections of the mid-1980s is seen by many opposition members as institutionalizing corruption in Taiwan democracy.

It is true that Kuan’s appointment is no less political than the DPP’s appointment of Dr. Yao Chia-Wen and that Kuan is clearly qualified for this position. But Ma Ying-Jeou does have a a large number of highly qualified candidates available both within his party and from neutral external positions. The section of Kuan sends a very strong message about the direction of education in Taiwan.


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Why don’t I feel surprised?
See the story about Taisugar…
See the story about Easycard…
But putting family member or friends at key positions is not the exclusivity of Taiwan…
But yes, it’s not a reason…
But who knows? X’Mas is coming… Maybe M. Kuan will bring something good?
Tell me when you see Santa Claus…


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