Mon, Nov 07, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KRTC Scandal: All are pointing fingers, but who's really to blame?

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Accusations fly fast and furious in Kaohsiung City's subway construction scandal, raising questions as to the credibility of lawmakers and the responsibility of the media.

Since the August labor riot by Thai workers hired to build the city's mass-rapid-transit (MRT) system, allegations made by lawmakers have hogged the headlines on a daily basis, while prosecutors are delving into the case.

The controversy has already claimed the jobs of many, including former acting Kaohsiung City mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), former Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊), former deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) and former Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) vice chairman Chen Min-hsien (陳敏賢).

The deciding factor that caused the resignations of Chen Che-nan and Chen Min-hsien was a photograph made public by TVBS's talk show 2100 Quan Min Kai Jiang (Speaking Your Mind at 2100). In the photograph, Chen Che-nan was gambling at a casino on Cheju Island, South Korea with Chen Min-hsien.

Pointing fingers

While the public and media are curious about the source of the leaked photograph, pan-green and pan-blue lawmakers point fingers at each other, and even at gangsters and prosecutors.

While it is the prosecutors' job to discover the truth, lawsuits have been filed by those accused of being involved in the controversy.

One of them has been lodged by Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁), chairman of the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE). Wu filed a defamation lawsuit against independent Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅).

Chiu had alleged that Wu and Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝), along with a broker for Gamania Digital Entertainment Co, visited a casino on Cheju Island in October 2002. The trip was allegedly aimed at persuading Wu and Kong to push the firm's public listing.

In a separate matter, Chen Che-nan's niece, Kuo Shi-ji (郭旭姬), accused Chiu of slander. Chiu claimed that Chen Che-nan had asked her to transfer NT$50 million from her account to her parents' accounts.

Upset by what they call the media's unbalanced coverage of the scandal, the Southern Taiwan Society (STS) has launched a nationwide campaign calling on the public to refuse watching TVBS and reading the pro-unification Chinese-language newspaper, United Daily News.

Media coverage

Commenting on the media coverage of the month-long saga, STS secretary-general Chet Yang (楊文嘉) said that although the media is entitled to disclosing new information related to the scandal, they have to bear in mind their social responsibility and journalistic ethics.

Yang criticized the TVBS talk show as a program that "adopts a highly controversial marketing strategy to hypnotize its audience with dangerous cajolery."

"Together, the program host, special guests and production team cook up an evil muckraking formula, consisting of only one portion of evidence to which they add nine portions of presumption. So, what the audience gets is 10 portions of incorrect and irresponsible conclusions," he said.

He asked whether Chiu has forgotten his role as a lawmaker, with the duty to make laws, not cause social instability. He also raised the suspicion that Chiu had cut a deal with TVBS to boost the program's rating.

"His revealing of only a little bit of information during the day and coming up with more spicy material at night in the program is like a strip dancer who takes off her top for free and then tells her audience they'll have to buy tickets to see her reveal all during the rest of the show," he said.

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