Tue, Jun 03, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers slam Mao over ministry statement

STORM OVER STAMPS Legislators criticized a statement from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications that ‘condemned’ the previous administration’s policy

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers serving on the legislature’s Transportation Committee lashed out at Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) yesterday for a statement the ministry issued last week criticizing the former administration for illegally changing the nation’s name on postage stamps.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced last Thursday that Taiwan Post will re-publish stamps so that they have the nation’s official title, the Republic of China (ROC), printed on them, after seven sets of stamps were issued with “Taiwan” on them.

At the end of the press release, the ministry “condemned” the previous administration for disregarding the law and unilaterally changing the name on the nation’s stamps from ROC to Taiwan.

DPP Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said it went against administrative ethics for the ministry to condemn the previous administration for one of its policies.

Wang also criticized Mao’s presentation as nothing more than a promise to fulfill President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “12 i-Taiwan Projects,” a gesture Wang said was simply currying favor with the president.

Mao defended the ministry, saying that he was responsible for any statements issued by it.

“The ministry is abiding by the law in handling this matter [the stamps],” he said, “According to the Constitution, the name of our country is the Republic of China. Unless the country changes its name, we should refer to the country using its formal constitutional name.”

To reduce costs, the ministry has decided to issue the new “ROC (Taiwan)” stamps after all the “Taiwan” stamps have been issued.

Wang said that the Universal Postal Union’s treaty clearly indicates the name of a country’s territory can be printed on its stamps and asked whether the ministry believed that Taiwan was not a part of the ROC’s territory. He asked Mao to submit a formal apology over the statement within three days.

“And if the minister thinks that the stamps were issued illegally, I suggest he may as well stop issuing stamps all together,” Wang said.

DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) asked Mao to find out who wrote the press release.

Mao offered an official apology in the afternoon for any confusion or controversy the statement had caused.

The dispute over the wording in the statement also generated complaints from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators.

KMT Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said the ministry needed to be more cautious about the wording it used in its statements.

“Government officials should be impartial in any dispute,” Lee said. “You should have avoided stepping into this sensitive area.”

Mao attended the Transportation Committee’s meeting for the first time yesterday. He was also grilled about various other issues, including Far Eastern Air Transport’s financial crisis.

He reiterated that the government would not offer financial assistance to the airline.

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