Houston Community News >> Ex-President of Taiwan's Palace Museum Arrested

5/24/2007 TAIPEI, Taiwan-- The former president of Taiwan's respected National Palace Museum was arrested Thursday on suspicion of corruption, amid allegations money was spent illegally during the museum's recently completed expansion project, a prosecutor said.

Shih Shou-chien was president of the museum in 2004, when a contractor allegedly received a major portion of the expansion work without fully competing in the bidding process, said prosecutor Wang Pi-hsia, who is considering filing an indictment.

Two lower-ranked museum officials were also arrested on similar charges, Wang told reporters.

Wang said the museum officials were under investigation for "passing favors," possibly getting kickbacks for awarding the work to the contractor.

The museum's recently completed 690 million New Taiwan dollar (US$21 million; €16 million) expansion added a new viewing area for one of the world's largest collections of Chinese artifacts.

First opened in 1965, the museum houses tens of thousands of Chinese artifacts that the late Chiang Kai-shek moved to Taiwan after his Nationalist forces lost a civil war to the Communists in China.

The semiofficial Central News Agency quoted unidentified officials as saying the expansion ended up costing more than twice the original budget.

Shih was appointed head of the museum by President Chen Shui-bian in 2004 after his predecessor was made education minister. Shih was removed from the post in a reshuffle in 2005.

The alleged graft comes after a series of recent corruption charges within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party ahead of December legislative elections and next March's presidential poll.

 (Contributed by International Harold Tribune)