Fri, Mar 10, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Legislators claim innocence

NOT ME Legislators who have been indirectly implicated in a bid-rigging scandal put their political careers on the line yesterday in an attempt to clear their names

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Minister of Transportation and Communications Kuo Yao-chi says that she can ``give birth to babies, but not to non-existent information,'' in response to several legislators' demands yesterday that she make public materials related to the electronic toll collection scandal.


Political figures alleged to have been involved bribe-taking related to the freeway electronic toll collection (ETC) contract -- including a lawmaker who accused fellow legislators of receiving sexual services from the contract-winning company -- yesterday staked their political lives on their innocence.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷) on Wednesday cited a transcript of phone calls and claimed that the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co had treated legislators and ministry officials to trips to hostess bars in order to secure the bid for the company.

Yesterday during the meeting of the legislature's Transportation Committee, DPP Legislator Kuo Wen-chen (郭玟成) added to the allegations, saying he had heard that some members of the committee accepted bribes of up to NT$10 million (US$307,881) to help Far Eastern secure the ETC contract.

Kuo's remarks incurred the wrath of independent Legislator Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁) who jumped on Kuo's claim and demanded that he name names and stop implicating the whole committee.

While Kuo responded by asking why Chen had declared his innocence when he had not yet specifically named anyone, other committee members suddenly proclaimed their innocence, saying that they had not taken any illicit money in connection with the ETC case.

DPP Legislator Wang Tuo (王拓) urged judicial authorities to gather all the facts about the case and quickly indict suspects, so that any "innocent people can clear their names."

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) yesterday said the caucus is considering referring Wei to the legislature's Discipline Committee for punishment after his "fabricated accusations," adding that "Wei should resign if his accusations are found to be untrue."

Wei accused Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源), both KMT members, of attending a banquet where Far Eastern bribed legislators and committee members to help it win the ETC bid.

"Nobody ever asked me to help secure the bid, nor did I ever contact any ETC bid committee members. There is no way that I was involved in this case," Wang told a press conference yesterday.

Cho, who quit as a legislator after winning the Changhua County commissioner election last December, told the press that he would quit his commissioner's post and withdraw from politics if he was found guilty of any involvement in corruption.

"I will quit my job and never participate in politics again," Wei told a press conference.

"As a legislator, didn't I have a duty to report illegal conduct of government officials in the legislature?" Wei asked.

Wei said that the KMT caucus should demand the government step up the investigation into the ETC case rather than ask him to resign.

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