Postal shake-up after storage debacle

NEGLIGENCE?:As Chunghwa Post did not limit the number of storage units an operator could lease, it must sign a contract with PChome to lease all 15 Linkou units

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, May 16, 2019 - Page 1

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is to ask Chunghwa Post chairman Louis Wei (魏健宏) to step down for failing to properly oversee the lease of a storage center in the company’s logistics park in New Taipei City’s Linkou District (林口), the Executive Yuan said yesterday.

Wei is the second company official to be held responsible for controversies over the storage center, after the ministry on Tuesday replaced Chunghwa Post president Chen Shian-juh (陳憲著), who was in charge of the project, with Chiang Jui-tang (江瑞堂).

Saying that he had followed all due procedures, Chen turned down a new assignment and chose early retirement, which was approved by the Executive Yuan.

The storage center, which covers 148,761m2, was divided into 15 units to be leased to businesses, the company said, adding that PChome Online Inc (網路家庭), Shopee Taiwan Co (樂購蝦皮) and Senao International Co (神腦國際) have expressed interest in leasing the facility.

PChome was ranked first in the postal company’s evaluations and had indicated that it wanted to lease all 15 units, Chunghwa Post said.

The storage center was built to serve as a platform for cross-border logistics and e-commerce operators, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lee Meng-yen (李孟諺) told a news conference.

“The postal company failed to limit the number of units that an operator can lease, which enabled PChome to rent all 15 units,” Lee said.

Chunghwa Post on Tuesday said that it would not sign a contract with PChome unless it negotiates an agreement to allow two other contractors to also use the center.

However, Lee said that the Executive Yuan examined the tender documents and decided that the ministry and Chunghwa Post should sign a contract with PChome.

The ministry said in a statement that it would ask the postal company to sign a contract with PChome to ensure that the facility, which cost the nation nearly NT$10 billion (US$321.44 million), can be used to facilitate the development of the logistics industry.

The government should also protect the interests of other bidders, the ministry said.

The postal company has been told to investigate whether there was any administrative negligence on its part, it added.

It also said that it would adjust the personnel in the company.

Chunghwa Post had consulted the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法) when stipulating the tendering rules, Department of Post and Telecommunications Director-General Wang Ting-chun (王廷俊) said, adding that it also made the rules public and collected comments from all parties during a 40-day consultation period.

No one dissented over the rules, Wang said after examining the tender documents.

“Chunghwa Post did not set any limits on the number of units that an operator could lease, due to a lack of interested parties at the beginning,” he told the Taipei Times.

The Chunghwa Postal Workers’ Union accused the ministry of “handing down a verdict without having a trial first” over its replacement of Chen.

“Nobody has expressed any doubt or different opinion after the postal company placed the tender documents on the Public Construction Commission’s Web site for public review. The government must investigate why there was a sudden change of mind when the company was about to end the tender,” the union said.

The incident not only ruined Chen’s reputation, but also hurt the firm’s credibility, it said.

The ministry should investigate the matter to clear Chen’s name and restore the public’s trust in the company, it added.

The union said that the Executive Yuan should not replace Wei and Chen before it conducts a thorough investigation into the case, and threatened to hold a protest or go on strike if it does.