Transport chief may sue over ‘rumors’

‘MISUNDERSTANDING’::The minister denied a legislator’s allegations that he forced Chunghwa Telecom chairman Lee Yen-sung to resign, and was backed up by Lee

By Shelley Shan and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters

Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - Page 1

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday said he might sue Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) for repeatedly spreading false rumors about him.

“It’s regrettable that Legislator Tsai has repeatedly spread this false information about me. Although legislators are entitled to oversee government officials on behalf of the people, I hope that all the criticism is founded on facts, not unsubstantiated rumors that ruin a person’s reputation,” Yeh told a press conference. “Because of the massive misunderstanding caused by these accusations, I may be forced to claim my right to take legal action.”

Tsai, who last year announced his intention to run for Taipei mayor, accused Yeh on Wednesday of attending a lavish party hosted by Senao International chairman Paul Lin (林保雍) and forcing Chunghwa Telecom (CHT, 中華電信) chairman Lee Yen-sung (李炎松) to resign when Lee refused to comply with the transportation minister’s instruction to increase the telecom carrier’s shares in Senao.

While Yeh denied those allegations on Wednesday and said he would not sue Tsai, Tsai yesterday reiterated his allegations that Lin treated Yeh to a luxurious dinner party.

Yeh yesterday gave a detailed schedule of Jan. 5, the day that the party allegedly took place.

He said he and some friends had lunch after they went hiking in Taipei’s Neishuangsi (內雙溪). He said the lunch was served in an iron hut and the dishes were nothing more than pork knuckle noodles and vegetables.

“Before we went for lunch, I went to the hospital to visit my mom at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital for about an hour. When I returned, I realized that they were celebrating my birthday and felt a bit awkward,” he said.

Yeh also said that several people accompanied him to an art exhibition at Ever Rich DFS Corp’s (昇恆昌) headquarters in Neihu (內湖) after lunch. He and his wife and children went home afterward, he said.

Yeh reiterated that he did not ask CHT to buy Senao shares within 15 days, nor did he force Lee to retire. He said there was nothing inappropriate in seeing Lin at the lunch.

“Lee retired because he reached the retirement age of 65 and had asked for my permission to leave,” Yeh said. “Senao is a subsidiary of Chunghwa Telecom, whose major shareholder is the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. I suggested that CHT increase its shares in Senao from the perspective of protecting the interests of shareholders and never asked anything about the matter after the meeting on July 5. Both the hiking and the lunch were attended by a lot of people.”

“I will be careful next time and avoid attending a big gathering like this one,” he added.

Both Lee and Lin also denied Tsai’s allegations.

Lee said he voluntarily resigned from the position as he was scheduled to retire on Jan. 7, when he turned 65.

Lin said Senao’s problem with CHT is a “family business,” and it is only legitimate to talk about the issue with the ministry.

“The relationship between CHT and Senao is like a mother and son, and that between the ministry and Senao is like a grandfather and grandson. It is not between the government and private business,” Lin said.

Earlier yesterday, Yeh apologized to Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Cabinet members for the “disturbance caused to the government” by the allegations.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said Yeh clarified the allegations raised by Tsai at the Cabinet meeting.

Jiang said he considered Yeh’s explanations helpful to clarify doubts, Cheng said, adding that Jiang asked Cabinet members to be careful about what they say or do to avoid being involved in any suspicious circumstances.

After Yeh’s press conference at 5pm, Tsai was not available for comment.

Earlier yesterday, Tsai said that Yeh had lied about the venue where Lin threw Yeh a birthday party on Jan. 5, when Yeh said it was at a makeshift iron hut.

Tsai said the birthday party was held at an exhibition center, known as “little national palace [museum],” in reference to the reception center in Neihu owned by Ever Rich.

Lin was the organizer of the party, Tsai said, adding that Chiang Shuo-ping (江碩平), a member of the KMT Central Standing Committee, just acted on Lin’s behalf to invite dignitaries to join the party.

Participants in the party included Tu Yuan-kuang (涂元光), an executive of Senao, Chunghwa Post Co (中華郵政) chairman Ong Wen-chyi (翁文祺), China Airlines chairman Sun Hung-hsiang (孫洪祥) and Taoyuan Airport Corp (桃園國際機場股份有限公司) general manager David Fei (費鴻鈞), Tsai said.