Taiwan vowed yesterday to protect the rights of a Taiwanese businessman whose hand was allegedly slashed so badly during a visit to Fujian province last week that it had to be amputated. The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), which represents Taipei on mainland issues, stepped in to advocate for the injured businessman, Hu Chi-yang, who said he was attacked by three men on Friday while in Putian city to visit family. The victim said his left hand was repeatedly slashed by muggers in an effort to take his watch and a ring. 'We have demanded that relevant mainland authorities quickly find out the truth and arrest the guilty parties in order to uphold the rights and interests of the victim,' said SEF spokesman Maa Shaw-chang. Even as the SEF was stepping into the case, Taiwanese media were quoting Putian police as suspecting that the incident could have been an elaborate scheme to collect an insurance payout. TVBS-News and the United Evening News were among Taiwanese media outlets that reported police saying that Hu's wife had bought more than NT$20 million (HK$5.26 million) in travel insurance for her husband before his visit. The victim's family has denied the fraud allegation. In interviews with Taiwanese media, Hu's daughter, Hu Yi-ling, complained of indifference by the SEF and accused Putian police of delaying crucial surgery to her father's hand by insisting on first taking a statement from him. She said police also kept her father's severed hand for evidence without his permission. Maa said the SEF responded immediately upon learning the severity of Hu's injuries. The SEF sought help from its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, who looked into the case and rejected the daughter's account of the conduct by the police.