Thu, Dec 20, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Fu Kun-chi paid journalists: report

By Chung Li-hua and Hua Meng-ching  /  Staff reporters

Then-Hualien County Commissioner Fu Kun-chi talks to reporters in Keelung on Feb. 9.

Photo: Lin Hsin-han, Taipei Times

Former Hualien county commissioner Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) has been accused of misappropriating NT$5.46 million (US$177,198) from the county’s tax income to hire reporters to write articles, produce videos or take photographs to trumpet his administration’s achievements.

The Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine yesterday reported that a closed tender to create a “media database to promote county government policies,” which had been initiated before Fu was imprisoned for speculative stock trading in September, was sent to 25 reporters from 14 news outlets and TV news stations.

The closed tender was for 25 projects scheduled for last year and this year each promising payments from NT$140,000 to NT$283,000.

Reporters who were awarded the bid were from the United Daily News, the Keng Sheng Daily News, Formosa TV, Sanlih E-Television, Next TV, CTi TV, China Television Co, TVBS, Taiwan Television, ERA TV, ETTV News, Taiwan Indigenous TV, Hakka TV and an online news site, the magazine said.

A leaked audio recording purportedly features former Hualien County Government deputy secretary-general Hsieh Kung-ping (謝公秉), a close aide of Fu, promising some reporters a monthly payment of NT$50,000 for helping the county government “gather information.”

The payment would be issued directly to them by a “department head” in the county government, Hsieh purportedly says in the recording, adding: “Now this job is between you, me and the department head.”

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Organic Laws and Statutes Committee demanded that the National Communications Commission and the Control Yuan investigate the allegations.

He said he found it difficult to believe that two of the implicated reporters were from Taiwan Indigenous TV and two were from Hakka TV, as these are state-sponsored public broadcasting companies.

“Should the Taiwan Broadcasting System not be held accountable? Should the private media outlets not give society an explanation?” he said.

Hualien County Secretary-General Lee Hsu-ning (李旭寧), speaking to reporters during a visit to the Taichung World Flora Exposition alongside Acting Hualien County Commissioner Tsai Pi-chung (蔡碧仲), called the alleged tender “unfathomable.”

According to law, a county government must announce the winning contractors in a tender within 30 days after the tender is closed, but Fu had withheld the information, Lee said.

It was not until after Hualien Research and Administration Department head Hsieh Ming-hung (謝明宏) took office that the tender was discovered and its contents uploaded to the county government’s Web site for public viewing, he said.

In addition, all the “contractors” were natural persons instead of companies and the projects were contracted out via selective bidding for both years, he said.

Fu’s administration managed tenders as if they were bait, which was inappropriate, as tenders should be demand-driven, he said.

As of press time last night, ERA TV said that it had conducted an internal investigation into the allegations and had no comment at the moment.

Formosa News said the accused reporters had been suspended and would be subject to an investigation.

Hakka TV expressed regret over its implication in the incident, saying that one of the accused reporters had recently resigned after being posted in Hualien for more than 10 years.

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