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Thu, Mar 08, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Evening paper's leadership dispute continues to boil

STAFF WRITER

The struggle for control of the Independent Evening Post (自立晚報) continued yesterday as the paper's editor in chief and employees demanded the replacement of Chen Hsiu-li (陳秀麗), who assumed the post of president on Tuesday.

During a press conference yesterday, editor in chief Ho Kuo-hua (何國華) presented a joint statement with employees from the paper's editorial department. Ho questioned Chen's leadership and vowed to uphold journalistic professionalism and editorial freedom, and to oppose any interference in the paper's editing and news-gathering.

Concerns over the paper's financial crisis appeared to have eased, at least temporarily, after negotiations between the paper's management and employees on Tuesday.

But a new storm began to brew yesterday morning after Chen sent a notice to Ho saying he had been fired.

"I can understand why Chen wants me to hand over the editor in chief's post. I feel ashamed that I cannot provide my colleagues with a comfortable working environment," Ho said in a statement yesterday.

"What we employees want to strive for is not just our jobs, but our dignity at work," Ho added. "We hope the new owners will stop calling the employees `depraved workers.' After all, we are all certain that no one has slacked off at work since the ownership changed hands more than four months ago."

Ho's colleagues also decided to sign a petition protesting Chen's sacking of Ho even before the board of directors formally announced her presidency.

Led by deputy editor in chief Lu Tung-hsi (呂東熹) and Lin Mei-no (林美挪), the editorial staff released another statement saying they respect former president Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) and oppose Chen's leadership.

The editorial department will keep the Post running to protect their readers' rights, the statement said.

Chen replaced Wang as the paper's president on Tuesday after financial problems delayed salary payments to the staff. Chen's plans to launch a reform plan to streamline personnel, which has triggered a strong backlash within the editorial department.

The paper's employees agreed to the management's plan to pay half of their February salaries yesterday and the other half on Monday.

The Independent Evening Post was the first evening paper to be independent of the KMT or any other political party and is famous for its independent reports and reviews.

After a financial crisis in 1995, however, the paper was taken over by KMT Taipei City Councilor Chen Cheng-chung (陳政忠), who led the paper down a pro-KMT path. The paper turned pro-DPP after Wang took over the company.

Now, with the paper's top post going to Chen, it is once again poised to swing back to the pro-KMT camp.

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