Wed, Jul 23, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Ma faces Control Yuan grilling

VIRUS The Taipei mayor was questioned over his actions following a SARS outbreak at the capital's Hoping Hospital. Ma told officials he would shoulder full responsibility

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou visits the Control Yuan to face questions about his role in April's Hoping Hospital SARS outbreak.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Control Yuan yesterday grilled Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over his decision to isolate Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital following a SARS outbreak in April.

After the meeting, Ma said the Taipei City Government would take full responsibility for the hospital outbreak.

"The Taipei City Government has done everything that could be done and has punished all the officials who were to blame," Ma said. "No matter what the Control Yuan says, [the Taipei City Government] cannot do anything about it."

Ma said the city government will seek a second opinion on the Control Yuan's final decision.

"The same fact could be interpreted differently by the prosecutors and the medical profession," Ma said. "Discrepancies inevitably happen.

"SARS is an infectious disease with unknown origins and currently has no cure. Even the WHO has changed its SARS definitions three times," Ma said.

Ma added that other countries affected by SARS, such as Singapore and Canada, have not disciplined their health workers.

"The city government asked the central government to list SARS as a statutory communicable disease and officially urged the Department of Health seven times to take action against the disease, but we still could not check the SARS outbreak," Ma said.

When told by reporters that Taipei City Government Bureau of Health director Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞) had been fingered by Hoping Hospital nurses and doctors as the key person responsible for the SARS outbreak, Ma answered that he could understand feelings had been hurt in the process of fighting SARS.

Chao Chang-ping (趙昌平), convener of the investigative committee, said, "We have not interviewed government officials before today in order not to hinder SARS-control measures that have been ongoing.

"Following Taiwan's removal from the WHO's infection list, it is necessary for Mayor Ma to explain whether his decisions and policies he made at the time were correct," Chao said.

"Although Hoping Hospital's former superintendent, Wu Kang-wen (吳康文) was removed from his post and his doctor's certificate revoked, that does not affect the investigation into the administrative responsibility for the SARS outbreak."

Ma said he would respect the Control Yuan's final decision, adding that the city government would take action as soon as possible to remedy the damage caused by SARS.

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