Chyuan Shun Food Enterprise, which markets rice under the Sunsuivi (山水米) brand, had its grain merchant license revoked last year, but an administrative appeal the company filed with the Executive Yuan has since been approved. According to media reports, the Council of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) quietly reinstated the license last month.
Last week the Consumers’ Foundation accused the government of “pretending to play ball” by first putting a dishonest business on the chopping block, but then letting it go. The foundation called the handling of the affair a dismal failure. The next day, the AFA released a statement expressing regret over the foundation’s comments. This whole shambles is infuriating.
In August last year, media reports and subsequent testing by the AFA revealed that three different types of rice marketed by Chyuan Shun, Taiwan’s third-biggest grain merchant, contained rice imported from Vietnam, while being presented as entirely grown in Taiwan.
In September, the AFA tried to assuage public indignation by hurriedly adding a new regulation to the effect that any grain merchant penalized three times within one year then caught again would have its license revoked.
The result of sample inspections for the third quarter again included one of Chyuan Shun’s products as not being up to standard, this time for containing too many broken grains. On Dec. 12, the Agriculture and Food Agency imposed a stiff penalty on the company by revoking its grain merchant license on the grounds that it had seriously broken the rules on four occasions within one year, adding that Chyuan Shun was the first grain merchant in 60 years to have its license revoked.
The AFA said it was canceling Chyuan Shun’s license in accordance with the law. If this was the first such cancellation in 60 years and if it was done according to the law, one wonders why the Cabinet’s administrative appeal review committee could so easily demand that the original penalty be canceled on the grounds that the timing of the sample inspections was wrong.
How could so many at the AFA, with all their experience of inspecting food products, not know that revoking the license on the basis of sample inspections carried out before the new regulation was introduced would be a violation of procedural justice? Yet the AFA did just that. Was it a move designed just to satisfy consumers?
After Chyuan Shun mixed cheaper Vietnamese rice into its allegedly 100 percent Taiwanese rice, public prosecutors indicted three people, including the company president’s son, on fraud charges, accusing them of having made NT$32,813,130 (US$1.1 million) in profit by illegal means. This was the 19th violation of regulations by the company in two years. Is it in keeping with social justice to reinstate the license of a company that has repeatedly broken the rules?
On May 29, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基), frustrated over the Food Administration Act (糧食管理法) and draft legislation relating to farmers’ pensions and other matters being stuck in the legislature for so long, called on government and opposition party lawmakers to get a move on and do something about the prevailing injustices. Now, however, the government stands accused of “pretending to play ball” in relation to the revocation and reinstatement of Chyuan Shun’s commercial license.
This issue has damaged public faith in the authorities. Officials of the AFA, which is part of Chen’s ministry, may have expressed regret over the affair, but should they not also be held at least partly responsible?
Lin Wei-chih is an agriculture and food researcher.
Translated by Julian Clegg
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation