Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Premier accepts resignation of GIO minister

`INAPPROPRIATE' Su said he had no choice but to let the GIO minister go as his interference in a share sale had compromised the credibility of the Cabinet

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday approved Government Information Office Minister Cheng Wen-tsang's (鄭文燦) resignation over accusations by the Fuji Television Network that he tried to influence a Japanese company's sale of shares in Taiwan Television Enterprise (TTV).

Su said he accepted Cheng's resignation after carefully reading the report of Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) investigation into the issue.

"Although he did not intervene in the Japanese company's sale of shares, Cheng's participation in the lunch was inappropriate," said Su, referring to a lunch hosted by Cheng on Jan. 17 attended by Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆), Fuji official Sumio Hasegawa and Liberty Times Group (the parent company of the Taipei Times) officials.

Cheng came under attack from opposition lawmakers after Hasegawa last week claimed that Cheng and Chen had arranged the lunch to "suggest" Fuji Television Network transfer its TTV shares to the Liberty Times Group.

"It was difficult for me to make the decision to let him [Cheng] go but I have to," Su added.

Su also said he had nothing to do with the whole episode.

"I never told him [Cheng] to get involved in this [Fuji's selling of TTV shares,]" Su said. "I had no idea he was having such a lunch."

The key that led to the Cheng's resignation was Tsai's investigation report.

In it, Tsai said that although there was no element of personal interest involved, Cheng's behavior was "extremely inappropriate."

Although Cheng's involvement did not cause any damage or change Fuji's mind, he, as a Cabinet spokesman, should take responsibility because his behavior has seriously damaged the Cabinet's credibility after its promise that the government would not interfere with the media, the report said.

"All things can be distorted and politicized under particular political circumstances," Cheng said last night, adding that he resigned to reduce the burden on the Cabinet.

Cheng's post will be temporarily filled by Deputy GIO Minister William Yih (易榮宗).

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