Tue, Feb 13, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Postal service, oil refiner change names

DROPPING CHINA The two state-run firms officially took on their new monikers yesterday, while labor unions and opposition parties protested the development

By Shelley Shan, Jackie Lin, Jimmy Chuang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A member of the postal workers' union, left, yesterday strikes a man holding a sign in support of renaming the nation's post office to ``Taiwan Post'' outside the company's headquarters.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The nation's postal service and largest oil refinery yesterday officially dropped "China" from their names in high-profile ceremonies presided over by the president, drawing the ire of those opposed to the move.

The Taiwan Post Co (臺灣郵政) and CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油) -- formerly Chunghwa Post Co (中華郵政) and Chinese Petroleum Corp (中國石油) -- held ceremonies to officially unveil their new names.

At Taiwan Post's main office in Taipei, hundreds of riot police were stationed to prevent demonstrations from turning violent.

Although minor scuffles between different groups of demonstrators supporting or opposing the move occurred, no major violence took place and no injuries were reported.

Taiwan Post president Wu Min-yu (吳民佑) said that watching employees call him "shameless" and tramp over signs printed with the Chinese characters for "Taiwan Post" was an emotional matter.

"I feel sad," he told the Taipei Times. "The change came too fast. You can't help feeling a sense of loss, especially when you have been working under the title [the Chunghwa Post] for more than forty years."

Wu was the only chief executive from the company who stood at the entrance to the Taiwan Post's headquarters and faced criticism from the representatives of the Chunghwa Postal Workers Union.

The protesters called on Taiwan Post chairman Lai Chin-chyi (賴清祺) to step down.

Protestors were originally planning to throw eggs at the newly established signboard, but they were prevented from reaching it by barricades the police set up in front of the company.

They later carried their protests to the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC). The crowd dispersed after MOTC Vice Minister Ho Nuan-hsuen (何煖軒) promised the renamed postal company would continue to have a monopoly and would not cut employee benefits.

Meanwhile, a ceremony was held to unveil signs bearing the new name, with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Transportation and Communications Minister Tsai Duei (蔡堆) and other government officials attending as guests of honor.

Chen said the name change was a fair and just policy, and was merely one small step taken to establish Taiwan as a "normal" country.

"Taiwan is our country, and it is the most beautiful and the most powerful name we have," he added.

KMT lawmakers reproached the government at a press conference yesterday.

"It's illegal to change the name of Chunghwa Post without amending related laws and regulations first. What's the urgency that you have to change the name at a time when the legislature is in recess?" KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) said.

"We have been instructed to change the name," Taiwan Post general manager Wu Min-yu (吳民佑) said, adding that the corporation would seek amendments to related laws and regulations when the legislature's next session begins.

Ho Chung-mo (何重謀), vice chairman of the postal service's labor union, said the ceremony was an "embarrassment."

Cheng Kuang-ming (鄭光明), one of the board directors representing the labor union, said that the costs of the name change would far exceed the NT$67 million (US$2.1 million) that the company's chairman had suggested.

Cheng said that while he was not against the name change, he did not expect that the policy would be carried out in such an expedient manner.

"It took only two days to change the name," Cheng said. "I wonder how long it will take before they announce the company will privatize."

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