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New Taiwan High Speed Rail chairman elected

TAIPEI--A board representative of the Taipei-based China Aviation Development Foundation (CADF, 航發基金), one of the major shareholders of the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. (THSRC, 台灣高鐵), was named Thursday as chairman of Taiwan's only high-speed rail operator.

During a meeting of the company's board of directors that day, Tony Fan (范志強) was elected to lead the THSRC after former head Ou Chin-der's (歐晉德) abrupt resignation earlier this month.

Fan, born in 1951, holds a doctoral degree in management information and artificial intelligence from the University of Cambridge.

Currently chairman of Taiwan Futures Exchange Corp., Fan has also served as chairman of TransAsia Airways, chairman of former Fuhwa Securities Co. and chairman of Askey Computer Co.

The biggest challenge he will need to deal with in the near future could be the huge debt of NT$50 billion (US$1.65 billion) the THSRC has accumulated, which is the main reason behind train fare increases that have drawn intense public criticism.

Ou resigned March 5 to shoulder responsibility for High Speed Rail operational glitches over the past few months, particularly after THSRC raised ticket prices.

In an unusual move, Ou faxed a letter to the CADF to resign as the government's representative on the foundation's board.

By quitting this position, Ou effectively also resigned as chairman of THSRC, as he was elected chairman through a CADF nomination.

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