Tsai Ing-wen missing thesis mystery now deepens with missing pages in University of London viva examination regulations

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial 1983 PhD thesis never made it to a library shelf until June 2019, thirty-five years late. (credit: Hwan Lin)

The never-ending story of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s 1983 PhD thesis has taken a new twist deepening the mystery around her thesis. First, the University of London [UL], which awarded President Tsai a PhD degree in 1984, was embarassed to admit it did not have a copy of the thesis on its library shelves, nor a copy on micro-film as required by university regulation. Now, the UL is forced to admit it is missing critical pages from its 1983 PhD regulations.

Emily Brick, the UL’s Information Goverance Officer, offers the current regulations but says missing pages of the 1983 regulations cannot be found. “I am writing to release the additional information requested – the missing pages in the 1983-1984 Regulations for Internal Students and the General Regulations 1983-1984.”

“I have asked colleagues and we could not find any material on the nomination of examiners for the time and composition of examination boards, although we do have these guidelines now which are published on our website.”

“I apologise for the time taken and the lack of information that pertains to your request.”

The University of London has kept quiet about the thesis controversy that began in June 2019 when President Tsai provided the London School of Economics Library with a copy of the thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions, thirty-five years late.

A Freedom of Information request spoiled the UL’s cover story to the Information Commissioner’s Office [ICO] blaming librarians for the missing thesis. “The original copy held by the University library was lost or mis-shelved sometime between mid‐1980s and 2010s over which period there were numerous structural changes to the library.”

The UL told the ICO the structural changes story despite earlier knowledge that the thesis was never received by the school library. In 2015, a.search was made for the thesis because of Tsai’s presidential campaign and a librarian went into storage and discovered a notation in the old card catalog that the computer did not have. A librarian wrote to an administrator, “However, we do have an old card catalogue covering theses from the 1980s and there is a card for this one which indicates we were due to receive the thesis, but it never arrived.”

The ICO accepted the false speculation as a factual assertion and did not investigate further, landing the matter in court before the Information Review Tribunal. The UL false speculation was debunked by Judge Hazel Oliver who concluded after studying the matter that the blame did not belong to the librarians.

“As explained above, it does appear from the evidence that copies of the thesis may not have been provided to the libraries at the time by the examiners, rather than having been lost or mis-shelved.”

Meanwhile, President Tsai refuses to release her viva report proving she passed the oral examination. The UL will not even name the examiners, citing privacy rights. No explanation has ever been given for the thesis absence from any library collection until 2019. Additionally, no explanation has been offered why the 2019 thesis version resembles a draft document with footnote issues, pagination problems, and handwritten entries including a question mark.

Growing public interest on the social media finally forced the UL to issue a statement admitting they do not know what happened to the missing thesis.

“Dr Tsai Ing-wen, who is now the President of Taiwan, was awarded a PhD in February 1984 following the submission and examination of her thesis by two examiners. While it remains unclear whether copies were deposited with the University’s library, that has no bearing on Dr Tsai’s PhD, which was correctly awarded.”

“The University categorically denies any allegations of wrongdoing or falsehood made against any member of staff in relation to the search for copies of this thesis. All University of London staff who have handled enquiries related to this thesis have done so with the utmost integrity.”

If the UL wants to keep that integrity it should explain about the missing regulation pages governing thesis examinations. Maybe the librarians lost them?

However, a larger question presents itelf. How could the UL know that President Tsai was correctly awarded a PhD degree if they cannot verify the viva examination panel was properly constituted?

Questions abound. Was there an external examiner? Was President Tsai’s advisor, Michael Elliott, an examiner? Was Elliott, who lacked a PhD degree, qualified to be an examiner? Was there ever a completed bound copy of the thesis? Why was the thesis never submitted to the libraries in 1984?

If PresidentTsai wants this mess to go away, her quickest way to quiet the critics will be to release the viva report before it goes missing.

Author: richardsonreports

Author of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story.

4 thoughts on “Tsai Ing-wen missing thesis mystery now deepens with missing pages in University of London viva examination regulations”

  1. I would propose to offer a reward globally for “the missing pages in the 1983-1984 Regulations for Internal Students and the General Regulations 1983-1984”.
    Such global campaign will not only bring considerable public pressure on UoL, but also make “missing thesis mystery” known world wide.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘To Hide One Lie, A Thousand Lies Are Needed’
    With the invent of Internet, all the exchanges on the Thesis-Gate scandal was recorded and still is. The longer UOL and LSE drag this matter, the more the Internet will be flooded with all the facts of the entire incident…


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