Fri, May 11, 2001 - Page 17 News List

Candidates for chairman of China Steel questioned

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislators and activists urged the government yesterday to exercise care in appointing the new chairman of state-run China Steel Corp (中鋼), saying that the two leading candidates have inadequate environmental protection credentials.

Amid speculation about high-level, behind-the-scenes disagreements over who should chair China Steel, the Commission of National Corporations (國營會) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs failed to release the list of candidates for board members yesterday, the day on which it was supposed to have been published.

At a press conference held by independent legislator Liao Hsueh-kuang (廖學廣) yesterday, activists from various social groups complained that some of the candidates for China Steel's board chairmanship lacked the appropriate degree of environmental awareness.

Activists from Spoonbill Action Voluntary Echo International, Taiwan Environmental Action Network, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union and the Taiwan Labor Front, also said at the press conference that the steel industry was a "sunset industry," which deserved no support from the government.

The new chairman of China Steel's board will receive a NT$6 million annual salary and will be the dominant figure in the allocation of an over NT$60 billion budget for the planned rapid transit system in Kaohsiung, in which the company is the sole investor.

It has been reported that the two leading candidates for the post are Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝), the incumbent China Steel board chairman and Kuo Yen-tu (郭炎土), former vice chairman of Yieh-loong Co (燁隆集團).

Yieh-loong has been involved in the proposal for the Pinnan Industrial Complex (濱南工業區) in Tainan together with the Tuntex Group (東帝士集團) since 1993. The environmental impact assessment for the project has not yet received final approval from the Environmental Protection Administration.

Yieh-loong was purchased by China Steel last year after a financial crisis at the company.

Environmentalists, however, say that the two major rivals and frontrunners are both unqualified.

"We are particularly against Kuo, the promoter of an industrial complex that will have a negative impact on the environment, including air pollution and the destruction of a wintering site for the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill," said Pan Han-chiang (潘翰疆), deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, at the press conference.

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