Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 3 News List

New questions raised in KRTC scandal

EMERGING DETAILS A presidential aide said that Chen Che-nan took eight trips to southeast Asia while in his post, and admitted that his relative owned a brokerage firm

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

With no end in sight to the mounting Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) controversy, the Presidential Office said yesterday that former deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) took eight trips to southeast Asia while serving as the president's policy counselor.

Deputy Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) released the information during a legislative committee review of the Presidential Office's annual budget, which was taken up with questions relating to the KRTC scandal.

While prosecutors continue their probe into the troubled Kaohsiung construction project, opposition legislators continued their own questioning in an effort to establish whether Chen Che-nan was improperly involved in securing contracts for foreign labor.

Pointed question

Meanwhile, Independent Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) caught Ma Yung-cheng off-guard when he asked Ma whether any of his relatives are in the brokerage business for procuring foreign laborers.

Ma first deflected the question, but later admitted that Fan Yi-chen (范逸琛), his wife's older brother, owns a brokerage company in Chiayi City. Ma said that the company was opened in 1995, long before he got married.

Chiu left Ma and the media baffled by failing to comment further, and saying only that his time for questioning was up. After the meeting Chiu refused to tell reporters if he thought Fan had a role in the controversy, only telling them that they should be patient.

Frequent flyer

Under questioning yesterday, Ma said that Chen Che-nan had traveled to Vietnam five times between October last year and July this year, according to Presidential Office records.

Ma said that Chen Che-nan took leave 17 times while he was deputy secretary-general. He took leave eight times while serving as the president's policy counselor, for the five trips to Vietnam, two to Thailand and one to Indonesia.

Regarding other trips Chen Che-nan may have taken without the Presidential Office's knowledge, Ma said that the information will be obtained from the Bureau of Immigration. He said that process could take about a week.

Ma also dismissed an allegation by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) that he is the "powerful individual" behind the MRT controversy.

Although admitting he had seen and signed an agreement regarding importing labor from Thailand to help build Kaohsiung City's MRT system, Ma said that he had played no part in the matter and that he has nothing to do with the controversy.

"The agreement is a routine document sent to the Presidential Office for notification," he said. "I signed the document but it did not go to the president."

A-bian not involved

When asked by Lee whether President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should be held accountable and step down to take responsibility, Ma said that the president has apologized for poorly supervising Chen Che-nan.

"I don't think the president needs to resign, because he is not involved in the controversy at all," he said.

Ma also called on prosecutors to speed up their investigation into the case in order to prevent more innocent people from getting hurt.

Meanwhile, the People First Party (PFP) caucus yesterday requested that the Presidential Office immediately recall medals of honor conferred on Chen Che-nan. The Presidential Office has said that it would only recall the medals if Chen Chen-nan is convicted of a crime.

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