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Fri, Dec 08, 2000 - Page 3 News List

National Palace Museum's procurement budget frozen

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

NT$45 million earmarked for antiques procurement was yesterday frozen temporarily from the National Palace Museum's (故宮博物院) budget, under an agreement reached at the legislature.

The funds will remain frozen until disputes surrounding exhibits have been resolved.

The freezing of the funding for purchasing artifacts was proposed by DPP lawmaker Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) on the grounds that museum officials had failed to provide reasonable explanations concerning doubts he had raised on the quality of objects on display at the museum.

On numerous occasions in the legislature in recent months, Chen has expressed doubts over the academic ability of museum researchers and the museum's purchasing process.

On June 19, Chen questioned the authenticity of a stone palette supposedly from the Shang Dynasty and two "Neolithic period" jade ornaments, all exhibited at the museum.

While museum researchers have never responded to his queries, he said at a legislative meeting last Thursday that the quality of at least 400 items on display was questionable.

The total value of these exhibits reaches into hundreds of millions of NT dollars, he said.

During yesterday's budget-review session at the legislature, Chen suggested freezing the museum's NT$45 million antiques procurement budget for the time being, until the museum submits a complete report to clear up the controversy.

Chen's suggestion was endorsed by independent lawmaker Josephine Chu (朱惠良), PFP lawmaker Diane Lee (李慶安) and KMT lawmaker Mu Ming-chu (穆閩珠).

Responding to the proposal, deputy director of the museum Shih Shou-chien (石守謙) said that the museum had been working on solving the dispute regarding the items in question, adding that a seminar would take place next Wednesday and Thursday, which jade specialists would attend to exchange opinions and share experiences.

After the seminar, Shih said, the museum would present a detailed report to be reviewed by lawmakers.

Shih also said that in a bid to prevent such a controversy from occurring again, the museum would publicize procurement details on the its Web site.

"By making the buying procedures and contents transparent, we aim to avoid contention of this kind in the future," he said.

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