Sun, Sep 18, 2016 - Page 1 News List

NPP slams NCC approval of CNS case

CONFLICT OF INTEREST:As government funds are Far EasTone investors, its purchase of bonds are seen as a bid to skirt a ban on government investment in media outlets

By Chen Yu-fu  /  Staff reporter

New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang speaks at a news conference in Taipei in this file photograph taken on Sept. 1.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

The passage of a controversial telecommunications case by the National Communications Commission (NCC) has drawn criticism from New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), who yesterday accused Premier Lin Chuan’s (林全) administration of ignoring legislative committee resolutions requiring a formal second review.

The recently confirmed members of the commission — which was reconstituted after President Tsai Ying-wen (蔡英文) took office in May — were quoted in news reports earlier this month as saying that the previous commission’s approval of Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia IV’s bid to acquire China Network Systems (CNS) is still valid.

“I’m extremely angry and there is no way I can accept this,” Huang said, accusing the commission’s new members of betraying the public’s expectations by ignoring legislative resolutions.

The acquisition is controversial because of the alleged role of Far EasTone Telecommunications, whose shareholders include the government’s four major investment funds.

Far EasTone last year spent NT$17.12 billion (US$540.3 million) on corporate bonds issued by North Haven Private Equity Asia, a private equity fund operated by Morgan Stanley.

Critics have said the firm is seeking to circumvent laws banning the government from direct investment in media outlets.

Huang accused the commission of “turning a blind eye” by not conducting a second review of the case, which he said the administration of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) “had not dared” push through.

“How can the government just let it slide when we worked so hard to bring the approval process to a halt?” he said, adding that the Investment Commission’s review of the case stopped after the legislature’s Economics and Transportation committees both passed resolutions demanding that the commission conduct a second review.

He promised an investigation into the responsibility of individual commission members over the decision, and demanded that the commission disclose how the decision was made, along with the individual stances of its members.

“If [commission Chairwoman] Nicole Chan’s (詹婷怡) attitude is no different from [former chairman] Howard Shyr’s (石世豪), she can say goodbye to her position,” Huang said, calling on Lin to take political responsibility for the decision.

“What kind of a joke is this for the Cabinet to respond like this to the public’s expectations?” he said, calling on Lin to follow up on statements he made last week that the Investment Commission would review the case to promise a rejection.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) and Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) yesterday also accused the commission of holding the legislature in contempt.

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