The Control Yuan said yesterday it would pay for unoccupied seats when its members took a trip via train in March, while insisting it had followed protocol.
The offer came after the Chinese-language United Daily News reported yesterday that 16 Control Yuan members from the Committee on Transportation, Communication and Procurement Affairs occupied all five business-class carriages on the train from Kaohsiung to Taitung during an inspection tour of the Taiwan Railway Administration’s (TRA) financial dealings, leaving many seats empty.
Based on TRA’s price chart, the trip should have cost each person about NT$49,000, but the committee members only paid NT$6,000 each, sparking heavy criticism from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
DPP caucus whip Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said that the Control Yuan was in charge of monitoring public officials, “but how can they do their job when they are the problem?”
Lee said the trip was a vacation that committee members passed off as work.
One Control Yuan member, Shen Mei-chen (沈美真), said the group was under the impression that the empty seats were because the TRA had not sold the tickets, not because the train administration had booked the entire five cars for the group.
“Sometimes when you take the high speed rail, you see only a few people in the business class and just assume that the seats hadn’t been sold,” she said, adding that each committee member paid NT$6,000 as required.
However, Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien (王建煊) told reporters that the agency would immediately pay TRA the difference in fare.
“Although it was the TRA that voluntarily offered the discount, Control Yuan members should have been more vigilant and cautious,” Wang said, thanking the media for keeping the Control Yuan on its toes.
He added that any organizations that have to meet Control Yuan members in the future should not go out of their way to appease the members.
DPP Legislator Gao Jhy-peng (高志鵬) said that Control Yuan members should be extra careful about their conduct and use of public funds because any misstep could damage their credibility and impartiality when they are conducting public investigations.
“Before you criticize other people’s beards, make sure you are clean-shaven,” he said.
Meanwhile, the TRA yesterday said it would not accept the money from the Control Yuan because it is customary for the organization or the government agency under inspection to pay for the trip of the inspectors.
The TRA said that Control Yuan members not only insisted on paying for their own tickets, but they also refused the free lunch box provided for them.
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