Pan-green legislators clashed with National Science Council (NSC) officials in a legislative committee meeting yesterday, accusing the council of mismanaging an infrastructure project worth NT$8.4 billion (US$256 million) in the Southern Taiwan Science Park.
According to NSC officials, the project in question was designed to reduce vibrations caused by the new high-speed railway, which runs through the park.
Scores of chipmakers in the park canceled investments worth tens of billions of US dollars in 2001 due to fears that the vibrations would disrupt their operations, according to an August 2001 report in the Asian Wall Street Journal.
The NSC, which runs the park, launched the "vibration reduction" project that year to stem further investment loss, the report added.
In May, former NSC vice minister Shieh Ching-jyh (
Shieh, once the nation's premier rocket scientist, is the first Cabinet-level official in President Chen Shui-bian's (
Shieh's critics insist he steered the contract for the project to a crony's company, a charge Shieh has denied.
"The project's cost was unreasonably high," Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Liao Pen-yen (
Liao added that the contract for the project was overpriced to benefit certain parties, and demanded a clear breakdown of its budget.
In August, Liao claimed in an interview with the Taipei Times that Shieh was part of a conspiracy involving Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members to drive up the price of the contract and steer it to Sheus Technologies Corp, a local rubber manufacturer. Their goal, the lawmaker alleged, was to fleece taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Liao didn't explain his reasoning during the interview, or offer any evidence supporting his theory.
DPP Legislator Kuo Chun-ming (
Not all pan-green lawmakers in attendance were critical of Shieh, however.
DDP Legislators Kuan Bi-ling (
Chen Chien-jen said that Shieh had the sense of mission and responsibility to take on the tough project. He added that the project was on schedule, on budget and had performed well on numerous tests to gauge its effectiveness in dampening vibrations.
Top officials from the Public Construction Commission and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications corroborated Chen's comments at the meeting.
In a phone interview the Taipei Times last night, Shieh, who has been out on bail since July, said Sheus Technologies was chosen for the project because "their methodology was better at reducing vibrations than their competitors during the bidding process," which he described as a rigorous procedure conducted by a panel of engineers.
As for Liao's accusations, Shieh called them "fabrications," adding that the Control Yuan had already combed through his financial records as well as those of his wife, son and daughter.