Taipei Times Taiwan News
By Chen Yung-chi / Staff reporter
National policy adviser to the president Shieh Ching-jyh (謝清志) earlier this month initiated a petition in the US in support of former Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), who in January was indicted on charges of corruption and misconduct as a public servant in a case involving the development of a cancer drug by biotech firm OBI Pharma Inc.
The Control Yuan on July 4 impeached Wong while the trial was ongoing, saying he engaged in profiteering and other financial crimes linked to the OBI Pharma scandal.
Wong later issued a statement pledging his innocence, saying he was not in violation of conflict of interest rules and that the Control Yuan’s “hasty decision” was made without regard for due process, as he had not been given the opportunity to tell his side of the story.
Control Yuan officials did not clarify the truth before making the decision, especially when the judicial process was still under way, Shieh said.
“Taiwanese technological specialists in the US saw Wong persecuted and blackmailed time and again. His image as portrayed by the media was diametrically opposed to the man we know,” he said.
“To our knowledge, Wong is an honest and upright academic. When he worked in the US or when he served as the Sinica’s head, he always actively engaged in the academic events organized by Taiwanese or foreign institutions no matter how busy he was,” he added.
The petition has garnered 454 signatures in the past two weeks, including 80 from the North American Taiwanese Professors’ Association, 83 from the North American Taiwanese Engineering & Science Association’s (NATEA) branch in Silicon Valley, California, and 139 from Taiwanese American Foundation of San Diego, among others.
Shieh, who is also chairman of NATEA, said he hoped the avid support for Wong among overseas Taiwanese would bring more attention to the truth of the OBI Pharma scandal and ensure that the judges make a fair decision.
Shieh was a deputy minister of the National Science Council (now the Ministry of Science and Technology) from 2000 to 2006.
In 2006, nine academic specialists and contractors, including Shieh, were accused of suspected irregularities regarding a contract awarded by the council to reduce high-speed train vibrations near the Southern Taiwan Science Park, for which Shieh was detained for 59 days.
In 2012 after a six-year trial, the Taiwan High Court’s Tainan branch delivered a not-guilty verdict.
Last month, 70 members of Academia Sinica, the nation’s top academic institute, issued a joint statement denouncing Wong’s impeachment.
Wong is a prominent biochemist who has worked in the US and had been touted as a potential Nobel Prize winner for his research.
After being appointed Academia Sinica president in October 2007, Wong began working on cancer vaccine technologies and collaborated on research projects with OBI Pharma chairman Michael Chang (張念慈), a friend from his time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Wong in March last year tendered his resignation, which was approved by the Presidential Office two months later.