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July 25, 2017

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Premier OKs Palace Museum chief's resignation

TAIPEI--Premier Sean Chen said Saturday that he has approved the resignation of National Palace Museum Director Chou Kung-shin amid accusations that she was hoping to use the resignation to improperly secure personal benefits.

The premier said Chou's resignation may have seemed "sudden," but was within expectations.

Chou was teaching at Fu Jen Catholic University when she went on leave to serve as the head of the National Palace Museum, but that leave ends on July 31, Chen said.

"For this reason, her resignation was something that could be expected," he said. "But we had expected her to choose to stay at the National Palace Museum."

Chen was responding to a Liberty Times report which said that Chou's resignation was a ploy to first return to her teaching position to secure a pension from the university and then later return as director of the museum.

The sources cited in the report said the premier rejected her idea, as did President Ma Ying-jeou when he heard about the idea.

Chou, 65, had been secretary of the National Palace Museum and head of the museum's Exhibition Division for 27 years. She later served as director of the Graduate Institute of Museum Studies at Fu Jen Catholic University in 2007.

She was recruited by Ma to serve as the director of the museum in 2008.

According to the China Times, some people speculated that her sudden resignation may have been related to a dispute with a bidder for the museum's restaurant operations.

The museum has long commissioned its Employee Cooperative to run the museum's restaurant and souvenir shop, but it only turned over 10 percent of its profits to national coffers even as they surged with the large increase in Chinese tourist arrivals in recent years.

To ease public misgivings, the museum held an open tender last year to find an outside contractor to run the restaurant and souvenir shop, but the winning bid was later revoked.

Chou is not a stranger to controversy. The Liberty Times said that after she retired as chief of the museum's Exhibition Division in 1999, her family continued to live in the museum's dormitory for over a decade.

Although she has no property in Taiwan, she was found to have purchased property in Shanghai, the paper said.

In an another incident, a worker in the museum's legal department named Chang Ying-chieh posted an article saying he was stopped from checking the accounts of the Employee Cooperative and was thrown out of Chou's office when he sought help from the director.

Chang later left the museum after he was transferred from one job to another.

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