Newspaper article China Post

Wong Needs to Prove His Innocence in OBI Scandal

Newspaper article China Post

Wong Needs to Prove His Innocence in OBI Scandal

Article excerpt

The snowballing OBI Pharma scandal is threatening to derail President-elect Tsai Ing-wen's economic policy, which places heavy emphasis on the biotechnology industry.

Tsai has shown a strong interest in the biotechnology industry. After stepping down as vice premier in 2007, she became chairwoman of Yu Chang Biologics, a private biotech firm founded with national subsidies when she was still vice premier.

She later sold her stake in Yu Chang after taking the helm of the Democratic Progressive Party, but her ties with the biotech firm proved costly: Corruption accusations by her opponents over government funding for Yu Chang damaged her 2012 presidential bid.

Hopes that the government would step up efforts in establishing the biotech industry quickly evaporated.

Tsai's election victory in January rekindled hopes for the biotech industry, with the president-elect again spelling out a blueprint for the emerging sector.

It has been speculated that Wong Chi-huey, head of Academia Sinica, would be put in charge of the government's biotech science park in Nangang, Taipei.

All appeared promising for Taiwan's biotech industry and Wong - a world-renowned chemist who many of his peers believe may one day win a Nobel Prize - until the OBI Pharma scandal erupted this month, with Wong and his daughter in the eye of the storm.

Now Wong owes the nation an explanation as to how his daughter was able to afford 3 million OBI Pharma shares, priced at NT$31 per unit at the time of purchase.

Ruentex tycoon Samuel Yin, who sold the OBI shares to Wong's daughter, claims that the transaction took place legally before the company was floated on the Taiwan Emerging Stock Market.

The transaction may not have been illegal, but Wong has to convince the nation that it wasn't a conflict of interest when he publicly endorsed OBI Pharma's technology after it delivered unsatisfactory results in a cancer drug trial in February.

One of the major lessons to be learned from this case is that there has been too much hype placed on the emerging industry. …

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