Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Taipei's health director quits on Hau

QUESTION OF AUTHORITY Sung Yen-jen surprised everyone by announcing that he was returning to academia, but not before taking a few potshots at his new boss

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Health Department Commis-sioner Sung Yen-jen (宋晏仁) sur-prised Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday by suddenly resigning -- and denouncing what he called Hau's "arbitrariness" and lack of respect for his profession.

Sung announced his resignation at a press conference at Taipei City Hall shortly after Hau presided over the inauguration of five administrative officials.

He accused Hau of interfering with departmental policy and turning him into a figurehead. He said Hau had overstepped his authority by firing the director of Taipei City Hospital over a medical dispute and appointing a replacement without informing him.

Hau's decision to supersede the department's authority over the hospital would make it difficult for the hospital to carry out municipal health policy, Sung said.

"Mayor Hau did not respect my profession, and caused deep divisions in the department's authority and duties. It was unnecessary to waste our time, and I would like him to find someone else," Sung told reporters.

He said that Hau was "furious" during a municipal meeting on Tuesday about a medical dispute at a postpartum rest center and faulted the health department without providing any evidence, Sung said.

"I am supposed to be his top aide in health policy, but he never consulted me ? I think he just can't wait to see me out of here," Sung said.

Sung, a professor of anatomy and cell biology at National Yang Ming University, was appointed health director by former mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in February 2005. He said he would be returning to the university.

Hau said he was surprised by Sung's sudden announcement, but he denied acting arbitrarily.

Last night he announced he had accepted Sung's resignation.

Earlier, the mayor had said he was confident about integrating his team with the city bureaucracy he inherited, and shrugged off suggestions that he should communicate with Ma on the matter.

"I asked Sung to remain in the city government, and former mayor Ma had nothing to do with my decision. This is an incident in the municipal team, and I will shoulder the responsibility," Hau said.

Acknowledging that he differed with Sung about who should have authority over Taipei City Hospital, Hau said he wanted the hospital to focus on taking care of city residents' health, and for the duties of the health department and the hospital to be separated.

Under Ma, the city government united 10 municipal hospitals into the Taipei City Hospital, aiming to turn the hospital into a public health research institute that would cooperate with the city health department and universities.

Hau visited the hospital last night to encourage its staff.

"We will look ahead now, and try to improve the quality of the city hospital ? This is just an incident. It won't affect me or the reputation of my administrative team," he said.

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