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Mon, Oct 01, 2001 - Page 2 News List

`Independence Post' to shut down

OUT OF CASH A change of management failed to save Taiwan's oldest evening paper and the publication will close tomorrow, sunk by ongoing financial problems

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Independence Evening Post, the country's oldest evening newspaper, will walk into history and is expected to issue its last copy tomorrow, the paper's editorial department announced yesterday.

The paper is ceasing publication because it is running out of printing paper and the newspaper's delivery people are on strike after failing to get paid for months, an employee said.

On July 26, a new team was introduced to take over the cash-strapped newspaper from former chairman Wang Shih-chien (王世堅). But the changing of the guard has failed to save the paper from closing down.

When taking charge, the new team claimed to have amassed NT$150 million to run the paper. But according to a manager at the paper, who declined to be named, the financial situation under the new regime never appeared favorable because some financial supporters decided to bail out after discovering the paper's deplorable financial condition.

Labor problems intensified two weeks ago when the paper's union filed a lawsuit against Wang and Chang Fu-tai (張福泰), the paper's new chairman, for embezzling NT$8 million in workers' insurance fees and failing to issue paychecks in July and August.

Unwilling to assume responsibility, Chang claimed that his chairmanship was invalid because the process of electing him was flawed. He has stayed out of the business ever since.

The manager told the Taipei Times that Chang had invested more than NT$10 million in August, but he refused to contribute more because of a lack of other financial backers.

Since the dispute broke out in mid-September, most of the paper's managers have left and the workers' union has been taking charge of the paper's operation. Originally published with 20 pages, the paper has been cut down to eight and most of its content is aimed at attacking management for, in the union's words, their "irresponsibility." The circulation has shrunk from 45,000 copies to 2,000.

There are 240 employees at the Post, who cost the paper NT$18 million per month.

The manager said that the paper is running out of money and printing paper. It costs NT$500,000 every three days to keep the paper running.

On Saturday, a board meeting to discuss the paper's future and the employees' working rights was aborted because of the union's protest.

Founded in 1947, the Post was the first paper in the country to advocate "independence from political parties" during a time when Taiwan was under martial law.

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