Fri, Mar 29, 2002 - Page 2 News List

DPP puts its man at Taisalt

POWER PLAY Ex-DPP legislator Cheng Pao-ching took over from KMT stalwart Yu Kuang-hwa as the firm's chairman yesterday, prompting concern over the apparently political complexion of the appointment

STAFF WRITER

Another state-run business has been "greened" with the appointment of former DPP lawmaker Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) as chairman of the Taiwan Salt Industrial Corp (TSIC, 台鹽).

The appointment ceremony was held at the shareholder and board meeting yesterday of TSIC, also known as Taisalt.

Prepared for trouble

TSIC security personnel were put on high alert before the meeting, following the sometimes vitriolic exchanges that took place on a similar occasion Wednesday at the Taiwan Sugar Corp (台糖).

At the Taiwan Sugar shareholder's meeting, participants lashed out at the DPP government's decision to replace that state-owned company's KMT chairman with DPP Secretary-General Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁).

The two appointments are widely seen as part of the ruling party's plan to pave the way for victory in the year-end mayoral and city councilor elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung, as well as the presidential election in 2004.

Yesterday's meeting at Taisalt appeared to be going quite smoothly, until Cheng was embarrassed by a slip of the tongue.

During his speech, instead of saying "Taisalt," he repeated "Taisugar" several times, reminding the attendees of the unpleasantries at Taisugar the previous day.

In response to questions about his lack of professional experience, Cheng promised that he would spend one year proving his capability and that he would ensure that the TSIC's profits would more than double, according to the report.

He also said that he would not campaign for DPP candidates during office hours; nor would he make use of the TSIC's substantial resources in the run-up to elections.

"I will only campaign after work," Cheng asserted.

The outgoing chairman, Yu Kuang-hwa (余光華), who has worked at TSIC for 12 years and has had by all accounts an excellent record, was moved to tears when shareholders expressed their appreciation for his work and contributions.

Under his leadership, the TSIC was dubbed "the role model of state-owned enterprises."

Former chairman surprised

This dramatic change in fortune surprised not only Yu, who was suddenly informed of the decision on Monday night, but also officials at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Commission of National Corporations (國營會).

The "greening" of the nation's state-owned enterprises has triggered a backlash from opposition lawmakers.

The KMT's Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) yesterday cited the China Steel Corp (中鋼) as an example, criticizing the political considerations that appear to have taken precedence in the recent appointments.

The profits of China Steel Corp dropped from NT$23 billion under former chairman Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝) to NT$8 billion after Kuo Yen-tu (郭炎土), who reportedly has close ties with the DPP government, assumed its leadership, Huang said.

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