The government should intervene to help five fishermen who were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat whose crew is demanding US$20,000 for their release, two lawmakers said yesterday.
KMT Legislator Huang Chien-ting (
Huang said the Hualien-registered fishing vessel Chun Tai Chun left Chengkung Harbor, Taitung County, on Feb. 21, for the Tungsha (Pratas) Islands. The archipelago is located 444km southwest of Kaohsiung.
The ship experienced mechanical failure and sank after catching fire. Five fishermen, after floating at sea for three days, were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel. The families of the fishermen expressed the hope that the five could return quickly, but received a message from Vietnam that they had to pay US$20,000 to compensate for the cost that the Vietnamese vessel would incur by ending their fishing run early to return the fishermen to harbor.
Huang said that Taiwanese businessmen in Vietnam contacted the Vietnamese military, which told them that the fishermen had already come ashore. The crew of the Vietnamese fishing boat was colluding with the military to extract the US$20,000 from the worried families, Huang said.
Chen Shih-liang (
The latest news was that the Vietnamese ship had yet to come ashore, and that the captain said that it would return to harbor in 10 to 15 days, Chen said.
Oung Yi-feng (
The families of the five fishermen wept at the news conference saying that they couldn't afford to pay such a large sum of money.
Huang said that the government should contact the Vietnamese authorities quickly to help the five fishermen come ashore and that the government's representative office in Vietnam should also lend a hand.
Huang also encouraged the Council of Agriculture to set up a foundation to assist those who have mishaps at sea.