Thu, Dec 15, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Taipei faces another graft scandal

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yet another possible corruption scandal continued to unfold yesterday, as two Taipei City Council members and executives from a partially state-owned bus company were accused of being in bed with a private firm.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Lin Kuo-chin (林國慶), Kao Chian-chi (高建智) and Eva Hsieh (謝欣霓) held a press conference yesterday to accuse two Taipei City councilors of taking a trip to Las Vegas with the chairman of the Taipei Metropolitan Bus Co, Hui Chao-hong (惠肇洪), during the public-bidding period for a NT$900 million (US$26.97 million) bus-purchase project.

"The bus company paid about NT$18 million to the seller without checking on the buses' status, and paid an even higher price when making a second purchase, which is suspicious," Lin said.

The DPP legislators alleged that the Taipei Metropolitan Bus company was involved in a purchasing scandal.

While denying the accusations, Hui, who represents the city government on the bus company's board, offered his resignation on Tuesday.

Hui defended himself by saying that the purchase project was transparent and open, and said the trip to Las Vegas last year was a personal one.

Meanwhile, the two KMT Taipei city councilors who were accused of accepting the trip as a bribe, Chen Chin-hsiang (陳錦祥) and Chen Yung-te (陳永德), yesterday denied any wrongdoing, and said they would sue Sanlih E Television, which ran an exclusive news report on the scandal on Tuesday night, for slander.

"The trip was a family holiday, and we paid for it. We will provide receipts and credit card records to prove this," Chen Yung-te said yesterday during a press conference at the city council.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reiterated yesterday that Hui had already offered to resign, and said that the city government welcomed any evidence that might assist in the investigation.

"I welcome [the DPP legislators] to provide related evidence for the government ethics department to conduct the investigation ... I am never afraid of domestic scandals in the city government being made public," he said yesterday at the city hall.

In response to legislators' demands to look into the case, Ma said although the city government held 38 percent of the company's stock, the company was privately owned and none of its employees held positions in the city government.

If the legislators do not provide evidence or prosecutors do not take over the case, it would be difficult for the city government's ethics department to conduct any investigations since the department only undertakes investigations into the city government's employees and is not entitled to investigate private firms.

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