Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) resigned late yesterday to take political responsibility for the tainted lard oil scandal that has hit the local food industry and tarnished Taiwan’s international image as a “food paradise.”
“I express my sincere apology for the unease the oil scare has caused the public,” Chiu told a press conference at the ministry building in Taipei at 8pm.
“I also want to show my gratitude for the devotion to service the ministry has shown during my tenure, such as implementing the second-generation National Health Insurance program, promoting medical diplomacy and playing an active role in the World Health Assembly,” he said.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Chiu said there are no longer any substandard lard oil products on store shelves and that the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office’s indictment of all responsible parties yesterday has at last put an end to the scandal.
“Hence, today I deliver on my promise to not cling to my post after ensuring that the oil scare was properly handled,” Chiu said, adding that he has plans to return to his former profession as a neuroscience researcher and medical instructor.
The 64-year-old physician-turned-politician served as Taipei Medical University president and professor for many years, and was best known to the public for promoting legislation on bicycle helmets, aimed at decreasing the number of brain injuries and accidental deaths.
During his tenure as minister since September 2011, the country suffered three other major food scares: a plasticizer food scare that year, a starch scandal and an adulterated cooking oil scare last year.
Meanwhile, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Yeh Ming-kung (葉明功) has been transferred from his position due to the lard oil incident, the Executive Yuan said.
Yeh’s position would be temporarily taken over by FDA Deputy Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美), the Executive Yuan said.
Earlier yesterday, eight people, who are operators and company executives involved in the scandal, were indicted by the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office on fraud charges and food safety violations.
Among the eight, Yeh Wen-hsiang (葉文祥), chairman of cooking oil maker Chang Guann Co (強冠企業) in Greater Kaohsiung; the company’s deputy general manager Tai Chi-chuan (戴啟川); Kuo Lieh-cheng (郭烈成), who ran an unlicensed cooking oil recycling operation in Pingtung County that was an upstream supplier of tainted oil to Chang Guann; and Kuo’s assistant, Shih Min-yu (施閔毓), were indicted on 235 counts of fraud in terms of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法), the prosecutors’ office said.
Head prosecutor Yang Wan-li (楊婉莉) said the four men played the main roles in the scandal, as they had supplied tainted oil to 235 downstream companies.
Citigroup Inc plans to exit retail banking in 13 markets across Asia, and the region of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The bank would instead operate its consumer-banking franchise in both regions from four wealth centers in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and London, it said yesterday in a statement. The move is part of an ongoing review of the company’s strategy by chief executive officer Jane Fraser, who took over last month. “This positions us to capture the strong growth and attractive returns the wealth-management business offers through these important hubs,” Fraser said. Citigroup is to exit its consumer
‘IMPORTANT PARTNER’: The new guidelines aim to encourage US engagement with Taiwan, which reflects a deepening relationship, the US Department of State said The US Department of State on Friday issued new guidelines governing US officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts, a move welcomed by Taipei as turning a new page in bilateral relations. Shortly before leaving office, then-US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Jan. 9 announced the cancelation of previous contact guidelines, which he said were “self-imposed restrictions” that attempted to appease the Chinese Communist Party regime in Beijing. However, the status of the guidelines has been unclear since US President Joe Biden entered the White House. Asked about the issue during a legislative session on Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu
CONFIDENTIAL: The trip had not been made public until just before ex-senator Chris Dodd, and ex-state department officials Richard Armitage and James Steinberg arrived The government yesterday welcomed an “unofficial” delegation sent by US President Joe Biden, while another delegation led by US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry was headed to Shanghai. Biden’s first delegation to Taiwan is made up of former US senator Chris Dodd, and former US deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg. They are to stay in Taiwan until tomorrow. Their arrival, on a chartered flight, had been kept confidential until media reported the visit yesterday morning, after which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a short notice that they were expected to arrive at 2:40pm. The flight landed at
‘IDEAL FIT’: A report on Sunday said that the Canadian government threatened to pull its support and funding from the HFX if the award was given to the president The government would respect the decision of the organizer of the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service on whether it plans to award a prize to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday. The statement was issued after US Web site Politico reported a day earlier that the Canadian government had warned the Halifax International Security Forum (HFX) not to give the award to Tsai for fear of provoking Beijing. “The ministry believes that if the Halifax International Security Forum confers the prize upon President Tsai, it would be an affirmation and honor for both