Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Row erupts over vote captains' boat trip

SEA EXPERIENCE When 42 vote captains took an excursion from Taitung to Green Island, the one-hour tour was arranged in advance, a DPP legislator said.

STAFF WRITER

Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen, right, and his wife, DPP Legislator Chou Ching-yu, spoke to reporters in Taitung yesterday on their return from Green Island.

PHOTO: YANG CHIAN-HUI, TAIPEI TIMES

Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) and his wife, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chou Ching-yu (周清玉), yesterday denied that they usurped the Coast Guard Administra-tion's patrol boats to treat Chou's vote captains to a sightseeing trip, while the Coast Guard Administration said it would look into the case soon.

A local Chinese-language daily reported yesterday that Yao and Chou used coast guard patrol boats to take 42 vote captains and staff on an excursion from Taitung County to Green Island.

The group traveled on two boats for an hour, accompanied by Lin Kao-chih (林高智), chief of the coast guard's East Coast Patrol Office, and his wife.

"We are here for holidays," Yao told the daily on Green Island.

Yao and Chou returned from Green Island to Taitung yesterday. They said they were participating in a coast guard activity and that everyone in the group paid for the trip.

"We were participating in the administration's sea-experience camps, which have been held about 150 times. Over 5,000 people have gone on these camps in the past," Yao said.

"The media said that I usurped the government's boats, and that is completely false.

"The media did not verify the facts with me before they reported the story, and I will not exclude the possibility of pressing charges against them," the former lawyer said.

Chou said there was nothing unusual about the trip.

"This is a trip arranged by my assistant in the Legislative Yuan. I arrange a trip for my assistants in the Legislative Yuan and the constituency office every year.

"My assistant simply decided to sign us up for one of the coast guard's sea-experience camps," Chou said.

But a few days previously, the administration had ordered all its patrol boats to man their posts and await orders as part of steps taken to prevent fugitive Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘) from leaving the country, the daily reported.

The coast guard said yesterday that it had ordered all its patrol boats to man their posts and await orders as part of steps taken to prevent fugitive Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘) from leaving the country. An order was issued on Thursday to halt all sea-experience camp activities.

The administration said that it has requested the East Coast Patrol Office to explain the incident tomorrow.

According to the administra-tion, the camps were introduced to inform the public about the coast guard's work and to promote ocean ecology.

People need to apply in advance, and the camps are held only if they do not conflict with regular coast guard activities.

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