Can one earn a Ph.D. degree without a doctoral dissertation? The degree is absolutely real It can’t be faked If someone has a Ph D then they certainly have a thesis That can’t be faked, either This mystery event involves President Tsai Ing-wen
of Taiwan and the London School of Economics and
Political Science I had the most interesting doctoral defense In the end they decided to award me one and a half degrees Four hundred eighty thousand British pounds is at the core of the LSE Thesisgate Scandal Ms. Tsai Ing-wen says she received her Ph.D. from the London School of Economics in 1984 However, no one could locate her doctoral thesis before 2019 We’re putting the focus on Tsai who is the current president of Taiwan This is a topic that continues to turn heads However, only one non-partisan media outlet and a handful of YouTubers in Taiwan are brave enough to unveil the truth behind “Thesisgate” Other news outlets have chosen to stay quiet on the matter even as discussions reach a boiling point online Even Taiwanese citizens abroad are committed to unraveling the mysteries behind Tsai Ing-wen’s degree Interestingly three scholars who supposedly share the same ideals as Tsai Ing-wen’s party the Democratic Progressive Party have come together to uncover the truth behind her credentials They are former President of the North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association and current Associate Professor at UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business Dr. Hwan C. Lin Tsai Ing-wen’s former instructor at National Taiwan University College of Law Professor Emeritus Ho, De-Fen and former Director of the Graduate Institute of Journalism at National Taiwan University Professor Dennis Peng [Ho, De-Fen] LSE is a top-tier social science university Would LSE deem this a thesis like this worthy of granting a Ph.D.? Even an amateur can see what’s going on here Professor Hwan Lin published a report that unveiled several pieces of evidence which suggest Tsai Ing-wen never received a Ph.D One key piece of evidence was the University of London’s library insisting that it never received a copy of Tsai Ing-wen’s dissertation 107 people received doctorates from LSE in 1984 the same year Tsai says she graduated from LSE Tsai’s dissertation is one of only two that the library does not possess The other missing dissertation belonged to a student that engaged in plagiarism Therefore, that person’s degree was revoked When presented with this evidence Tsai Ing-wen responded by suing the three scholars for defamation [Chang, Tun-Han] Recently there have been false speculations regarding President Tsai’s doctoral dissertation The Office of the President would like to respond and offer some clarification In 2016 after President Tsai was elected LSE congratulated President Tsai publicly on their website This is a reissued copy of President Tsai’s degree from LSE which she applied for in 2015 This document bears the school’s seal proving its authenticity Moving forward we have decided that we will take legal action once we have prepared the necessary documents [Ing-wen Tsai] I don’t understand why these professors insist on questioning my degree They did suggest that I submit my degree for judicial inspection In that case I’ll take legal action and have the judicial system settle this issue in its entirety When faced with such strong evidence the presidential office’s only response was to sue It was an attempt to turn the tide of public opinion However on the same day the presidential office announced their intention to litigate then legislator Apollo Chen struck a devastating blow He discovered that all documents related to Tsai Ing-wen’s time as a professor at universities in Taiwan were quietly classified and designated as top secret They can’t be declassified until December 31, 2049 One can’t help but point out that if the reissued diploma Tsai applied for in 2015 was indeed valid then she could simply have it authenticated by authorities in the UK That would silence any questions over the validity of her Ph.D But, why did she have to settle for a photocopy of her 1984 diploma archived at the school? Isn’t that strange? Is a photocopy more convincing than an authenticated diploma? Furthermore the presidential office produced an old memo used to notify Tsai she passed her doctoral defense However this memo had no signatures from anyone The Office of the President has yet to offer an explanation for any of these inconsistencies even today The presidential office also presented Tsai’s student records But, these offered more questions than answers regarding the authenticity of Tsai’s credentials [Dennis Peng] Something amazing has come to light On the bottom of her student record there’s a space where administrators can make remarks Here, the remarks say something very interesting This is a big secret Taiwan has been hiding Taiwan’s president once withdrew from her doctorate program due to financial difficulties November 10, 1982 Here, it says “WD” “WD” is short for “withdraw” Now, “withdraw” can have many meanings You can withdraw from anything – a class, a course, a program, or even a school Here, “withdraw from course” is best construed as withdrawing from the school’s Ph.D. Classes right in the middle of when Tsai would be writing her dissertation It’s a well-known fact that Tsai’s family is quite wealthy It flies in the face of logic to think that she withdrew from university due to “financial difficulties” In response the Office of the President had this to say Some people have brought attention to the remark “WD from course” written at the bottom of President Tsai’s student record “WD from course” means she simply dropped a class She did not withdraw from the Ph.D. program I’ll clarify By February of 1982 President Tsai already completed her two years of prerequisite study as mandated by the school It was then that she became eligible for LSE’s Ph.D. program Going back to President Tsai’s record she was already enrolled in the school since October of 1980 So, she did not need to re-enroll nor did she have to retake any required courses If you look closely in November of 1982 President Tsai received authorization under the guidance of her advisor to withdraw from said classes The presidential office’s explanations were insufficient In fact they drew the attention of Dr. Hsu Yung-tai who earned his Ph.D. in Economic History at the University of Oxford Dr. Hsu took a trip to LSE so that he could read Tsai Ing-wen’s doctoral thesis which had been sent to the Women’s Library at LSE on June 28, 2019 He was only allowed to read the thesis He was not allowed to copy from the text Dr. Hsu published an article in the Chinese-language US-based newspaper World Journal on September 18, 2019 In the article, he shared his thoughts about Tsai Ing-wen’s dissertation Hsu raised several questions regarding the thesis Firstly this thesis supposedly written in 1983 was rather rough overall Not only that but the way the thesis was formatted indicated it was composed using technology available only after 1984 There were remnants of handwritten corrections and traces of white-out The thesis also used American spelling rather than British spelling which is unusual for the London School of Economics These factors all pointed to one thing this thesis was written and put in place after 1984 As more and more scholars began casting doubts Tsai had no choice but to face the issue in front of the media Tsai addressed doubts surrounding her doctoral dissertation for the first time on September 19, 2019 [Ing-wen Tsai] The degree is absolutely real It can’t be faked If someone has a Ph.D. then they certainly have a thesis That can’t be faked, either During this election campaign I hope my opponents can focus on policy They can even challenge our values But, they shouldn’t employ fabrications to smear my character It’s not a good look for them either [Journalist] Why did it take 30 years for this thesis to enter the library’s records? There’s also the matter of missing signatures and dates [Ing-wen Tsai] This thesis was written 35 years ago Back then…they had different methods If you judge the thesis using today’s standards then many things will seem strange However when we wrote dissertations back then we adhered to the rules we were given I think what’s important is people don’t doubt the existence of the dissertation am I right? [Journalist] Some people say this thesis was made by combining shorter articles and papers Some even say that your dissertation doesn’t resemble a dissertation at all [Ing-wen Tsai] I think that the people who say such things are speaking about things beyond the realm of their expertise When they comment on something it’s best for them to remain cautious, and stick to what they know [Journalist] The rules say that the thesis can’t be copied or used in citation It says that everyone needs to agree to those terms if they want to view the thesis [Ing-wen Tsai] That, I don’t know I would like to look into it myself [Journalist] So you didn’t set those rules? [Ing-wen Tsai] Of course I didn’t! [Journalist] They said that you had a hand in setting the rules I don’t think so! Tsai Ing wen’s response on September 19 left a lasting impression on the public Regardless of the authenticity of Tsai’s degree one can’t deny that her demeanor and response were repetitive and suspicious The public wanted answers At this point even someone who had no idea what a dissertation was before knew about Thesisgate Four days later The Office of the President held a press conference [Presidential Office Spokesperson] We’ve taken the time to unearth a copy of the dissertation the president wrote using a typewriter I present it to you now Afterwards, everyone can take photos of it We’ve gone through countless reproductions This document is a manuscrip meaning it is the original copy of the dissertation The reason why this copy isn’t bound is simple Back then the only way to reproduce a dissertation is by photocopying it If you bind the manuscript it would be very inconvenient to take apart if you wanted to copy it again There was no way to “save” documents like you can on modern computers We sent a copy of this manuscript to the LSE library There are six pages missing from the copy at LSE That’s because there was an error during the transfer process However after thorough investigation we find that different versions of the dissertation from other years contain the pages missing from the one at LSE I will give everyone access to the documents in my hand which is the first part of the dissertation As soon as the presidential office offered up this stack of unbound musty papers everyone was dumbfounded When reporters asked for clarification this was the answer they received [Ing-wen Tsai] It’s not some random stack of papers It compiles into a complete work We’ve explained this before Honestly I’ve unearthed countless boxes to find this dissertation I rummaged through storage for a long time to find it The copy of the dissertation on display at the Women’s Library at LSE was sent there on June 28, 2019 It can’t be copied or photographed without consent from the author This so-called black leather-bound “thesis” could not win the public’s trust However the presidential office had one more card to play during this press conference [Presidential Office Spokesperson] The evaluation committee for the president’s dissertation approved her proposed topic in January of 1983 By June of 1983 she turned in her dissertation The president then completed her doctoral defense in October of that year as well The University of London notified the president that she successfully passed her defense in January of 1984 From the approval of the topic to its completion an LSE dissertation took only five months to complete That, if anything, is unbelievable On September 23, 2019 the presidential office held a press conference Three people spoke on behalf of the Office of the President reading prepackaged statements that failed to deliver any solid answers about the mysterious dissertation In fact inconsistencies presented in this press conference extended the Thesisgate discussion by half a year [Presidential Office Spokesperson] You’re looking at an image of the official doctorate degree conferred on President Tsai Ing-wen by the University of London on March 14, 1984 Copies of this degree are being kept at National Chengchi University the Ministry of Education and the University of London’s student records office You can see the school’s name here The Chinese translation of necessary documents have also been mailed to everyone You can clearly see the degree indicates that the president has completed the requisite coursework and passed the necessary exams at the London School of Economics It says here that the degree is conferred on Tsai Ing-wen and the document even bears the signature of the school’s then chancellor According to the presidential office itself copies of the 1984 diploma are being kept at the Ministry of Education and National Chengchi University If that’s the case why was it necessary to acquire a diploma from the London School of Economics? Why did they continue to keep the files at the Ministry of Education and NCCU hidden? Why not bring out one of those instead of showing the people an image on a screen? The University of London clearly states on its website “we do not hold copies!” Dr. Hwan Lin went one step further and contacted the school’s Diploma Production Office to verify this information Again their response was “Please note, we do not provide scanned copies of award certificates for reasons of security and the prevention of fraud” The information published on the University of London’s website and its Diploma Production Office are consistent Six missing pages and the other “versions” This dissertation manuscript is 35 years old Back then there was no method of “saving” documents like there is with modern computers This manuscript has been copied countless times so you can see the effects of time on its pages The thesis sitting in LSE’s library was copied from this manuscript That copy is missing six pages That’s because there was some error during the transfer process However after thorough investigation we find that different versions of the dissertation from other years contain the pages missing from the one at LSE The copy of Tsai’s thesis sitting in the Women’s Library at LSE is indeed missing six pages However after further investigation it was revealed that this black leather-bound book was missing more than just six pages In fact this book didn’t even have a conclusion nor did it have a “copyright page” which is standard for all doctoral dissertations Even though the LSE electronic library already contained the dissertation’s information in its system it still indicated that the thesis was a “personal copy” That begs the question why isn’t there information on the “different versions” of the dissertation from “other years” that the presidential office spoke about? A photocopy that doesn’t have a signature and doctoral defense on a Sunday? [Presidential Office Spokesperson] The evaluation committee that presided over the president’s dissertation approved her proposed topic in January of 1983 In June of 1983 she submitted her dissertation The president completed her doctoral defense in October of that year as well In January of 1984 the University of London notified the president that she had successfully passed her defense This is a memo dated January 23, 1984 which says that the president submitted her dissertation in June of 1983 This same notice also says that she passed her defense which happened in October of 1983 The memo says that the evaluation committee was very satisfied with the president’s defense and dissertation Therefore they recommended that the University of London grant her a Ph.D. The memo says that an official letter would be sent out in February 1984 The presidential office claims that Tsai’s doctoral defense took place in the middle of October After more extensive inquiries our investigation team learned from a manager at LSE that the date of the defense was October 16, 1983 The strange thing here is that date falls on a Sunday How likely is it that a doctoral defense took place on a Sunday in the United Kingdom? Furthermore the memo that the presidential office presented had no signature of any kind In fact that memo was very different when compared to other memos from LSE Most notably there were no signatures nor any comments from members who sat on Tsai’s evaluation committee Database search comes up snake eyes!
Thesis smuggling in 2011! [Presidential Office Spokesperson] Two pieces of evidence that serve to validate this dissertation have existed for 35 years Firstly everyone knows that in years past you could look up President Tsai’s dissertation on The British Library’s thesis database That’s the first piece of evidence The second piece is here Professor Hwan Lin went to LSE and flipped through the president’s thesis himself He then published a report about it online On page 28 of his report Lin says that on June 19, 2019 the school told him that according to their records Tsai’s thesis was moved from the University of London’s Senate House Library to the university’s Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at some point in time Why doesn’t the presidential office clarify when exactly “some point in time” is? During his investigation Professor Lin discovered that this arbitrary point in time the presidential office was referring to was the year 2011 That year someone indeed tried to sneak a copy of the thesis into the university’s library system but was rejected by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Why is it that the presidential office claims that something that happened in 2011 occurred 35 years ago? Furthermore The British Library’s database didn’t even house text from Tsai’s dissertation until after October 2019 The absence of such key details begs one more very important question Where were the “different versions” from “other years” the presidential office said existed, at this time? A poorly written dissertation? [Presidential Office Spokesperson] Another question people are asking is why the thesis has so many traces of handwritten corrections as well as page formatting inconsistencies 35 years ago, word processing software did not exist This entire dissertation was written page-by-page using a typewriter All of the page formatting and spacing had to be configured manually It was difficult to stay consistent back then If word processing software existed everything would look neat and tidy, correct? Well the imperfections in this thesis prove that it was a product of its time LSE records show that President Tsai passed her doctoral defense right away The professors that sat on her evaluation committee did not request she make any changes to the content of her thesis However they did ask her to correct some of the misspellings that were in her dissertation Whether or not typewriters from 1983 can write neatly and stick to a cohesive page format is subjective no matter what the Office of the President says Regardless Professor Yen Chen-shen of National Chengchi University managed to identify 444 misspelled words in Tsai’s dissertation Furthermore he found that the thesis employed American spelling non-consecutive page numbers poor paragraphing and even instances of the advisors name being misspelled The presidential office actually expects the public to believe that an evaluation committee overlooked so many mistakes in such a poorly constructed thesis? Another voice this time from Taiwan’s legislature also began casting doubt on Tsai’s credentials When an opposition lawmaker questioned the Minister of Education he got a response that opened an entirely new discussion [Apollo Chen] Mr. Minister, can I have them? I asked for them on July 19 I was able to obtain documents that won’t be declassified for another 30 years So, why is it that I can’t access a photocopy of a diploma which the school said it will keep for 50 years if not longer I, as a lawmaker, can’t access those files [Pan, Wen-chung] Mr. Legislator I think I know where you’re going with this I think that what the education ministry has provided so far is sufficient Mr. Legislator you asked me if I feel any pressure from this issue There is no pressure I have absolutely no pressure because, if the thing in question exists, then it exists What’s out there is out there If it doesn’t exist then we would have nothing to offer Mr. Legislator, you made the request I should have been given it before this date in July [Apollo Chen] When I asked for the files On July 19 That was the same day that the presidential office announced That it found her promotion documents and you can find it wherever This all seems too good to well-orchestrated to me You give me files and suddenly The education ministry holds a press conference While the presidential office “finds” documents It’s all because you’re prepared and ready for this During a legislative committee meeting then lawmaker Apollo Chen questioned 48 university presidents who were present He asked if they believed Tsai’s thesis was real Only six of them raised their hands in agreement Something interesting happened in the lead-up to Taiwan’s presidential elections Fewer people believed in Tsai’s doctoral dissertation Many of her supporters chose to stay quiet The voices that demanded a public response from Tsai grew louder and louder 175 Ph.D. degree holders held a press conference and released the following four points 1. Even after the education ministry’s repeated announcements, they remained skeptical over the validity of Tsai’s Ph.D. from LSE. They would pursue legal action to find the truth. 2. Documents related to a professor’s tenure should not be a government secret. On what grounds are Tsai’s documents kept secret until 2049? 3. The foreign ministry should publicize President Tsai’s travel history at Taiwan’s border between the years of 1980 and 1985. 4. The education ministry should launch an investigation to verify whether or not Tsai’s work as a doctoral advisor during her time at National Chengchi University and SooChow University were sufficient and up to standard. Shortly after this press conference Taiwan held its presidential elections Tsai Ing-wen won by a landslide Since then Tsai, the education ministry, and the presidential office have gone completely silent when it comes to questions surrounding the dissertation In Taiwan Thesisgate has become a dichotomy of faith and skepticism But the questions remain Is the dissertation real?
Is the diploma real? We refuse to let those important questions fall by the wayside Both sides of the argument are suing the other for defamation If Tsai’s degree is illegitimate then she must be held accountable for fraud, forgery, corruption, and more Even her legitimacy as a president must be brought under question As May 20 – the date of Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration approaches the presidential office is mobilizing resources comparable to that it is dedicating to fighting the Wuhan Coronavirus It’s getting ready to do battle against Thesisgate Next episode we show you the evidence we uncovered when our investigative team went to the University of London