Tue, Jul 29, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Source of weather bureau apology unclear

WHO’S SORRY NOW? The director-general of the Central Weather Bureau and his deputy could not say who wrote an apology said to have originated from their bureau

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Government officials yesterday failed to give a clear account of who was behind the release of a story by the state-owned Central News Agency (CNA), which said early yesterday morning that the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) was sorry for causing Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) to misunderstand its weather forecast.

The story, released at 12:31am yesterday, reported that the CWB offered an apology to Liu for causing him to misspeak, after its false briefing that Fung-wong, then classified as a tropical storm, was a typhoon.

Liu made the verbal error on Saturday afternoon after being briefed by weather forecast center director Daniel Wu (吳德榮) at 2pm and said afterwards when asked to comment on his slip that the CWB should provide weather information in lay terms.

When interviewed by cable TV about Liu’s mistake, Wu said that Liu had “misheard” him as he had said that the tropical storm was strengthening and was on the threshold of becoming a typhoon.

The CWB classified Fung-wong as a typhoon at 8:30pm on Saturday night.

The source of the apology was unclear as it was more than 35 hours after Liu had misspoken and the story was apparently from the Government Information Office (GIO) and not the CWB.

Even though the apology was written in the name of the CWB, it was sent out by the GIO through a CNA reporter who covers the Executive Yuan beat, triggering speculation that the GIO had offered the apology to Liu on the CWB’s behalf without the bureau’s knowledge.

GIO Minister Vanessa Shih (史亞平) said yesterday that the GIO released the statement at the request of Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), whose ministry supervises the CWB, and she assumed that Mao had informed the CWB of the move in advance.

Shih said that Mao had asked CWB personnel stationed in the typhoon disaster prevention center to handle the statement and had GIO personnel who were also on duty in the center to send it out.

She said that the GIO didn’t assume the identity of another agency to issue a press release.

CWB Director-General Hsin Chiang-lin (辛江霖), however, gave a different account when asked by reporters at a press conference.

Cable TV station TVBS reported that Hsin said he had told Mao that the CWB needed to offer an apology to Liu, but he didn’t see a copy of the statement before it was released.

Hsin and his deputy Lin Hsiu-wen (林秀雯) were both unable to say who wrote the statement when asked by reporters.

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