Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Former CLA head quizzed by Kaohsiung prosecutors

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chen Chu (陳菊), former chairwoman of the Council of Labor Affairs, was summoned for questioning yesterday by Kaohsiung prosecutors investigating the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal.

Chen Chu told reporters that "no powerful politicians intervened in the council's policy to introduce foreign laborers to Taiwan," before she entered the prosecutors' office.

As of press time, the questioning was still underway.

The lead prosecutor of the Taiwan High Court's Prosecutors Office, Kaohsiung Branch, Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明) said yesterday at a judiciary committee meeting that prosecutors wanted to learn why the council changed its policy on foreign laborers.

He said the council in May 2001 announced that the county would freeze the introduction of foreign laborers for working on major infrastructure projects.

But in June 2003, the council changed the policy, and decided to allow the introduction of foreign workers by the companies in charge of major build-operate-transfer (BOT) construction projects.

Chen Tsung-ming said the KRTC in September 2003 had asked the council for permission to use foreign workers, and the council permitted KRTC's application in the end of that year.

Prosecutors had said former presidential adviser Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) was hosted on three foreign trips by the brokerage firm Huapan Co (華磐公司), which was in charge of obtaining Thai workers for KRTC. Chen was released on bail last week, after being charged with corruption.

Meanwhile, state public prosecutor-general Wu Ying-chao (吳英昭) alleged that Chen Che-nan, a defendant in the KRTC scandal, not only went to Thailand and South Korea using a foreign laborer brokerage firm's payment, but also went to Vietnam to secure contracts for foreign labor.

Wu made the remark when he responded to independent Legislator Chiu Yi's (邱毅) query at a legislative judiciary committee meeting yesterday.

Chiu alleged that Chen Che-nan and former KRTC vice chairman Chen Min-hsien's (陳敏賢) trips to Vietnam had two purposes. One was to arrange for Vietnamese workers to enter Taiwan.

"The time they headed for the country matched the period that the Council of Labor Affairs re-allowed foreign laborers to work in Taiwan," Chiu said. The second mission, Chiu alleged, was to launder illegal brokerage fees.

Wu said prosecutors were still learning whether the two conducted illegal activities abroad, and that prosecutors were also busy examining Chen Che-nan and his relatives' bank accounts.

Several legislators from across party lines yesterday asked Wu to hasten the probe of the scandal.

"The scandal has seriously damaged the government's image, so prosecutors should swiftly clean the bad elements out of the government," said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉睿).

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