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General Chamber of Commerce's board in limbo after 'tainted' vote

TAIPEI -- The latest board election of one of Taiwan's major business groups has been found to be “evidently flawed and tainted with controversy,” the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said yesterday.

In an unusual move, the ministry said it will therefore withhold election certificates for the board members of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China (中華民國全國商業總會), who were elected last December.

This means that the chamber will have to hold a new election, according to Deputy Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇).

If the chamber is not satisfied with the ministry's decision, it can file an appeal within 30 days, the ministry added.

The ministry's decision follows legal action taken by a group of chamber members who filed a complaint with the Taipei District Prosecutors Office Jan. 14, accusing newly elected Chairman Lai Cheng-I (賴正鎰), who owns the land development company Shining Group, of forgery.

The members, led by Taiwan Solar Thermal Energy Association Chairman Huang Cheng-chung, have alleged that the election was rigged by Lai, saying that the names of some people who did not participate in the Dec. 17 vote have been discovered in the sign-in record book.

While there were originally only 45 seats for directors and 15 seats for supervisors on the board, the numbers of seats were increased to 51 and 17, respectively, after the vote, Huang said.

Lai, however, described the MOI's decision as irresponsible. He said the ministry should have issued the election certificates first and left the dispute to the courts.

The General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the common interests of the private sector in Taiwan and to improving the domestic commercial environment, as well as investment opportunities both domestically and abroad, according to its website.

Along with the Chinese National Federation of Industries, the General Chamber of Commerce is a top association of Taiwanese entrepreneurs and its members enjoy good relations with officials in China as well as in Taiwan.

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