Sat, Sep 02, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Lin hits back at accusations of ETC bid-rigging

SPIRITED DEFENSE After being named by a district court as a defendant in the ETC case, the former minister held a conference to insist on his innocence

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former minister of transportation and communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said yesterday that he had never authorized Sung Nai-wu (宋乃午), the ministry's former chief secretary, to influence the bidding process for the highway electronic toll collection (ETC) system.

He also said that decision of the Taipei District Court on Thursday to list him as a defendant in the suspected bid-rigging case was both "shocking and regrettable."

On Thursday, Sung was sentenced to 12 years in jail for accepting bribes and acting without authority in handling the controversial toll project.

Accompanied by his attorney, Lin made a nine-point statement yesterday to defend himself from the accusations in the court's verdict against Sung.

a few regrets

Lin said he regretted having recruited Sung and entrusting him with many important tasks.

"My inability to know Sung better led to this case," he said, "Sung used my trust to accept bribes and divulge secrets for business operations, and I should not be punished for it."

He added that the reason he had recruited Sung was because Sung used to be in the ethics department when he worked for the Taipei City Government. He was hoping that Sung's expertise would help him, but he did not know he had "such bad habits."

Lin said he had not known about the relationship between Sung and Tsai Ching-hong (蔡錦鴻).

In a document on the selection of consulting companies for the ETC system, Lin wrote that he agreed to the proposal in principle but that the procedures needed to be officially approved.

According to Lin, Sung took this instruction and requested that the National Taiwan Area Freeway Bureau amend the bidding requirements. Lin had already informed the prosecutors that he had not written the instructions on amending the bidding requirements.

Lin said further that on the morning of Feb. 19, 2003, the day the prosecutors said that Sung was meeting with some officials, Lin was attending a Cabinet meeting at the Executive Yuan. Lin showed the record of his attendance in the Cabinet meeting, on which he signed his name.

The court's press release had said that the prosecutors found that Lin was neither on leave nor on a business trip. He was not in a meeting in the Legislative Yuan, either, the verdict said, adding that Lin "must have had contact with Sung out of malicious intentions."

Lin went on to say that his stand on the ETC system has always been that motorists need to be charged by distance traveled, not by the number of toll booths they pass. But he was briefed by the bureau that the policy needed to be executed in stages. He also quoted from a Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper) interview of former bureau chief Liang Yueh (梁樾), saying that Liang had mentioned the idea to him.

In addition, Lin blamed the district court for not scrutinizing whether Sung had misled Tsai into believing that whatever Sung did was personally authorized by Lin.

Lin said that he had not coerced the Institute of Transportation to deliver a report detailing the construction of the ETC system and its relationship with Taiwan's industrial development. After the research was completed, the researchers sent it to Sung's via email. He did not know about the report until it was handed to him, Lin said.

"I wanted to see the content because I wanted to understand the advantages of the infrared technology and microwave technology," he added.

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