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Fri, Jul 27, 2001 - Page 3 News List

`Post' again rises out of the ashes

CASH WOES The `Independence Evening Post' was rescued anew yesterday by a team intent on restoring it to its former glory, but the `Taiwan Daily News' was too short of cash to pay its employees' salaries

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

A new team was introduced yesterday to take over the cash-strapped Independence Evening Post (自立晚報). The announcement ended speculation that the nation's oldest evening paper would perish amid the worst economic recession in decades.

The Post has been struggling with financial difficulties and labor-capital disputes since March. Yesterday's changing of the guard at the paper marked its fifth new management team since 1994.

Chang Fu-tai (張福泰), a doctor of Chinese medicine and the chairman of the Green Peace Radio Station (綠色和平) will succeed Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) as chairman, while former national assembly deputy Liu I-te (劉一德) is to become the new president.

Wang sold the pro-independence newspaper at the symbolic price of NT$1,000 for his 78 percent share of company stock to a group of investors consisting mainly of doctors, lawyers and business leaders.

"Ten months ago, I came to take over the Post bearing a sense of mission to society and special feelings toward the Post's legacy. I have tried my best and I am utterly drained mentally from the task. Now let me withdraw with pride and introduce you to the new team," said Wang.

Under Wang, the paper reportedly lost NT$150 million.

Although declining to reveal how much new capital had been put into the newspaper, Liu told the media that "the newly-acquired capital will last at least one year."

But according to media reports, the team has already amassed NT$150 million for the task.

"It is the hope of the country that the Post does survive. Now we are here to continue the work left from Wang. We are very confident in the future of the Post, and believe it will be more creative and more in-depth in our hands," said Liu.

He added that the liberal spirit of the Post would remain, but unlike the previous focus on political news, the newspaper will provide a wider variety of information.

The new president then seized the occasion to rebut media reports that the Presidential Office and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) -- a new political party that announced its new name and logo on Wednesday and is led by pro-Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) politicians -- were involved in the changing hands.

"The reports are utterly baseless," said Liu. But he did not rule out the possibility of TSU's future participation in the paper if "we two share similar ideologies; plus, it is always good to have more money."

Regardless of Liu's denial, there are good reasons for media speculation on an association between the new team and the TSU.

Last month, Liu -- the former director of the DPP's department of organizational development was one of the few DPP politicians invited by the political group to run in the year-end elections. Liu turned down the offer, saying he would "never leave his beloved party."

Liu said if there was any chance -- however unlikely -- for him to run in the campaign, he would manage to continue his job at the paper.

Founded in 1947 by Wu San-lien (吳三連), a prominent Taiwanese business leader strongly supporting Taiwan's pro-democracy movement, the Post was the first paper in the country to advocate "independence from political parties" during a time when Taiwan was under martial law and press freedom was only a dream.

During its 54-year history, the paper stood out from its counterparts by challenging the KMT's dominance and lending support to dissidents and non-KMT politicians alike.

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