Tue, Sep 06, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Chen Chu pledges to resign over riot

LABOR AFFAIRS The head of the CLA said that she had twice submitted her resignation to Premier Frank Hsieh, who said she should not step down yet

BY JENNY CHOU AND KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu announces her resignation at a press conference yesterday to take responsibility for riots sparked by the cruel exploitation of Thai workers on Kaohsiung's MRT system.

PHOTO: CNA

Taking responsibility for the Aug. 21 riot by Thai laborers in Kaohsiung, Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) yesterday said she was determined to resign, despite Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) refusal to let her go.

The riot began over poor working conditions at the Kaohsiung MRT construction project.

"As a government official, self-reproach is not enough; I also have to take responsibility," Chen said, almost in tears. "Seeing the rights of the Thai laborers being so abused has put a new perspective on their importance; I have suffered great agony and my conscience has been restless throughout this time."

Chen apologized for letting the country down and for tarnishing Taiwan's image in the eyes of the world.

"As the daughter of Taiwan and a great believer in democracy, I need to reflect on my actions and take full responsibility," Chen said, adding that "taking responsibility is the least I can ask of myself, after being involved in politics for the past 30 years."

At the press conference she held to make the announcement, Chen also explained the actions of the CLA since the events of Aug. 21.

The CLA started an investigation into the affair on Aug. 23, and on Aug. 26 Chen told Hsieh that she wanted to resign, Chen said. Hsieh refused to accept her resignation.

The CLA investigation was completed on Aug. 30, and a report including initial suggestions about how the situation could be improved was being sent to Hsieh, she added.

Commenting on Chen's resignation, Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) yesterday said Chen's efforts to defend the human and legal rights of laborers will be remembered.

"We believe that people will remember what she has done for the Council of Labor Affairs over the past five years as chairwoman," Cho said.

Cho also confirmed that acting Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) had also tendered his resignation twice.

Cho, however, said that the premier will not consider the resignation of Chen Chi-mai until the Cabinet's investigation report is complete.

Dogged by the media about the rumor that he had also offered to step down, Chen Chi-mai confirmed yesterday afternoon that he had tendered his resignation to shoulder the political responsibility for the riot by Thai workers.

Chen Chi-mai said that he had offered his resignation twice since the incident took place. His first resignation was offered on Aug. 28 and then last Tuesday in writing, but were both turned down by Hsieh.

Chen said that he would hold a press conference today to offer more details of his decision.

Regarding Chen Chu's resignation, Cho said Hsieh's attitude toward the issue remained the same.

"The premier still thinks that Chen [Chu] should not leave at this moment, as the investigation is not complete yet," Cho said.

In related news, deputy director of the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) Chen Min-hsien (陳敏賢), who returned from a trip to Thailand yesterday evening, held a press conference and insisted that there were no "powerful parties" involved in the recruitment of the Thai laborers.

"I am a traditional businessman and my guiding principle is honesty. The decision to hire laborers directly from Thailand and the procedures that followed were entirely innocent, and well within the regulations of Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp," he said, adding that he will resign from his duties both as vice president of the KRTC as well as a presidential policy adviser.

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