Sat, Oct 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Education ministry files suit against newspaper board

By Wu Po-hsuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Ministry of Education on Thursday filed a lawsuit with the Taipei District Court against the board of directors of the Mandarin Daily News for an alleged violation of Article 33 of the Civil Code, saying that the board has over the past three years illegally profited by NT$5 million (US$165,645).

The board failed to elect new board members within a legally required timeframe and has over the past three years been paid a total of NT$5 million in salary and other compensation, the ministry said.

The board was scheduled to be re-elected at the end of February, the ministry said, adding that it had to intervene as the newspaper’s daily operations have been severely affected.

Some members of the board had splintered off to form a separate body, leading to lawsuits against each other and mounting criticism, the ministry said.

Documents from 2014 showed that the chairman, standing board members and common board members were paid NT$30,000, NT$7,000 and NT$5,000 respectively on a monthly basis, the ministry said, adding that all 17 board members were given one month’s “pay” as a year-end bonus.

As the organization was established with government funds, membership of the board should be unpaid, Department of Lifelong Education Director Huang Yueh-li (黃月麗) said.

Despite multiple official notices for the board to cease the practice, it was only halted in May, she said.

After receiving an official notice from the ministry to elect new members, the board filed an appeal with the court, the ministry said, adding that it was forced to resort to legal measures, as the board has violated Article 33 of the Civil Code.

Article 33 stipulates that if a board of directors has disobeyed or interfered in investigations of the governmental body to which they are subordinate, the agency may ask for the board’s dismissal in court, along with a NT$5,000 fine for board members.

It could take between three and six months before a verdict is reached, Huang said, adding that should the court rule in the ministry’s favor, it would appoint temporary board members who would amend the organization’s charter and hold office until an election is held.

New board members would be elected from ministry representatives, academics and education professionals, the ministry said.

The daily operation of the newspaper would fall under the new board, as the ministry would not take over or intervene in such affairs to maintain the neutrality of the media, Huang said, adding that the new board would also be tasked with investigating the alleged profiteering of the current board members.

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