Fri, Jun 28, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Wenzhou ‘small three links’ farce to be probed

By Lee Hsin-fang, Shelley Shan and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A photograph of Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Yeh Kuang-shih attending a ceremony held by Shang Ho Shipping Co is overlaid with the text: “Mainland Affairs Council exposes lie. Kaohsiung-Wenzhou maritime route not a ‘small three link.’”

Photo: Wang Jung-hsiang, Taipei Times

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday called a Kaohsiung official’s attendance at a ceremony on Tuesday to launch a maritime route between the city and China’s Wenzhou a “farce,” while Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) asked the central government to help investigate the case.

Kaohsiung Tourism Bureau Director Pan Heng-hsu (潘恒旭) was photographed at a ceremony held by Shang Ho Marine Transport (上和海運) to celebrate the purported maiden voyage on a route between Kaohsiung’s Cijin District (旗津) and Wenzhou’s Dongtou.

A banner at the event suggested that the route was part of the “small three links.”

However, the company disbanded on June 12 and no application had been filed with the Maritime and Port Bureau to establish the route or to use the two ships that allegedly made the maiden voyage.

The Executive Yuan believes that the incident contravened the government’s authority, Su said at a Cabinet meeting in Taipei, adding that it has caused a misunderstanding and might have left a poor public impression.

The Kaohsiung City Government should investigate the incident, he said.

Yeh attended yesterday’s meeting on behalf of the Kaohsiung City Government, Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said.

Su told Yeh that he should have understood the relevant legal process, as he previously served as minister of transportation and communications, she said.

Yeh said that if the alleged route was fake, the Ministry of the Interior should help with the investigation, Kolas said.

The ministry has asked the Kaohsiung City Government to conduct a thorough investigation into how a disbanded company took part in the ceremony and where the idea came from, as the possibility of fraud cannot be ruled out, she added.

The ministry has found that the China Dream Promotion Association, which organized the event, in 2014 applied for commercial registration and was granted approval in 2015, Kolas said.

During that period, it did not provide a financial statement or host similar events, she said, adding that Tuesday’s event is the only one it has hosted recently.

The ministry said that it had already sent a letter to the association requesting an explanation of its organization and operations, as well as its financial statements, she said.

Asked whether it was a means of making money, Kolas said that she does not yet know.

Fraud was “one possibility,” Kolas said, adding that the Cabinet is not making any presumptions.

Meanwhile, Taiwan International Ports Corp (TIPC, 台灣港務) said that Shang Ho would not be allowed to operate a “small three links” shipping businesses without first receiving approval from the Maritime Port Bureau.

The ceremony took place at a property administered by the Kaohsiung City Government, not on TIPC property, it said.

Even though Shang Ho had ended its operations and does not own any ships, it had planned to lease two cargo ships — Yenhong (延鴻) and Yongshun No. 2 (永順二號) — to offer shipping services between Kaohsiung and Wenzhou, the TIPC said.

Both are still docked at the Port of Kaohsiung, it added.

Bureau South Maritime Affairs Center Director Yu Chien-hsun (余建勳) said that the “small three links” only include shipping services to China’s Fujian Province from Kinmen or Lienchiang County.

Additional reporting by Ann Maxon

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