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APNIC elections: Reform activists rejected, org welcomes stronger election protections

Candidates supported by Morocco-backed group fail to win a single seat on Executive Council

Candidates advocating for a major overhaul of the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) have failed to win any of the four seats available on the organization's Executive Council, and current members are welcoming changes aimed at preventing future attempts to stack the board.

Yoshinobu Matsuzak of Internet Initiative Japan, Inc; Kenny Huang of the Taiwan Network Information Center; Roopinder Singh Perhar of Netplus Broadband Services; and Anlei Hu, Chief Network Security Officer of the China Internet Network Information Center, were nominated for the Council, effectively making them directors of APNIC's equivalent of a board.

Delivery of the results ends a controversial and bitter election season during which APNIC warned members of phone calls from parties unknown who falsely represented themselves as APNIC representatives and urged members to cast their votes for certain candidates. APNIC also reported some members claimed to have received threats for speaking out about the election.

The organization received so many complaints about activity people thought was in breach of its code of conduct that it engaged external lawyers to investigate them.

In closing remarks after the results were announced, Akinori Maemura, chief policy officer at the Japan Network Information Center, read a post to APNIC's forums in which Japan's JPNIC calls for action to reinforce APNIC's Election Nominee Code of Conduct in light of the events described above.

Current EC member Gaurab Raj Upadhaya welcomed those remarks, suggested the Council will happily consider them, and observed that the APNIC community detected a threat to its operations and successfully rallied to defend against it.

The election featured six candidates recommended and/or endorsed by the Number Resource Society (NRS), a Morocco-based internet governance advocacy group.

NRS published a video that supports its candidates and suggested APNIC's structure and governance are inappropriate, as well as making unsupported allegations that senior figures at the Center may have used the body to enrich themselves. The video suggests NRS's preferred candidates will reform the body and improve internet access for the region. The endorsed candidates also advocated for APNIC to relocate from Australia to Singapore, and asked for other reforms.

One of the NRS's endorsed candidates – Lu Heng, the CEO of IP address management firm Larus – posted a call for APNIC to appoint different lawyers to consider Code of Conduct breach allegations, on the grounds that APNIC's chief counsel spent 13 years on staff at the appointed firm, Maddocks.

Lu received the fifth-most votes in the poll, after running fourth in 2022's election, when three seats on the Council were vacant. Turnout for this year's election was over 33,247. Lu was 1,700 votes behind fourth-placed Anlei Hu.

APNIC congratulated the newly elected EC members, as did Lu, who added: "They have a huge job ahead of them in reforming the governance of APNIC."

Lu added: "Whilst I'm disappointed not to win, I was pleased to see more community participation and I would like to thank those who voted for me. The scrutiny of APNIC's governance will continue and I will play my role in this from within the community."

Karl Kloppenborg, the Australian veteran telecoms engineer who led calls for revision of APNIC bylaws out of concern for the NRS push, also welcomed the result.

"It's fantastic to see the community rally behind candidates of good standing," he said.

The Register has requested comment from the NRS. ®

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