Tue, Nov 15, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blues demand Frank Hsieh's head over KRTC

QUESTIONS A KMT lawmaker said the premier should step down to avoid a conflict of interest as the probe into the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp scandal continues


Pan-blue lawmakers yesterday requested that Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) resign to avoid a conflict of interest as prosecutors continue their probe into the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) called on prosecutors to investigate Hsieh's possible role in the scandal, adding that the premier should come forward and explain what he knows about it.

Pan said that while the German firm Siemens was supposed to invest NT$1 billion (US$30 million) in the construction project, she was very curious to know why it put down only NT$500 million.

She also criticized the Presidential Office's investigation report as being "full of more questions than answers" and requested further inquiry into claims that former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) had engaged in stock trading during office hours.

As Hsieh was the mayor of Kaohsiung when Siemens was chosen to build the trains for the subway system, KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) said she would like to know what the relationship between Siemens and Hsieh is, as well as between Siemens and Chou Li-liang (周禮良), former director of the Kaohsiung Department of Rapid Transit Systems.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), the party's director of policy research, said that the Kaohsiung City Government had violated the legal limit of 20 percent on government investment in the project.

The limit had been set to encourage the private sector to contribute to the construction of transport infrastructure by investing more than 77 percent of the funding for Kaohsiung's subway construction system.

Chen Che-nan's trips

1. May 29, 2001: Vietnam

2. Nov. 1, 2002: South Korea

3. Feb. 27, 2003: Indonesia

4. Dec. 6, 2003: Vietnam

5. June 9, 2004: Vietnam

6. March 17, 2005: Vietnam

Source: TT

Under these circumstances, the bidding process should have been regulated by the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法), but it was not, Chang said.

The PFP legislator asked whether Chou and Hsieh had teamed up to allow six subcontracts to circumvent the law.

Chang requested Hsieh to respond to his questions as soon as possible and step down to avoid a conflict of interest while prosecutors continue their investigation.

Chang said that he will hand over the information he has obtained to prosecutors and hope that they immediately summon Hsieh and Chou for questioning.

In related news, Deputy Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) yesterday said that the Presidential Office's taskforce does not have the right to investigate nor search Chen's banking accounts, as this is the prosecutors' job.

Ma was defending a report released by the office last week amid criticism that it shed little light on the matter of allegations of misconduct by the former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general.

Ma said the report by the Presidential Office on Chen was an administrative investigation with the aim of determining whether Chen had ordered his subordinates to engage in improper activities.

"The report is aimed at finding out whether Chen has improperly instructed his subordinates to conduct inappropriate conducts," Ma told the legislature's Organic Laws and Statutes Committee in response to the question filed by a committee member, KMT caucus whip John Wu (吳志揚).

According to the report, Chen went abroad on four occasions without applying for a leave of absence, and on a further two occasions failed to complete the leave application procedures.

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