The Control Yuan impeached former transportation minister Lin Ling-san (林陵三) on Tuesday for allegedly investing illegally in Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) and its operations.
The body voted to impeach Lin by a 9-3 margin and censured the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and the Public Construction Commission for condoning the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration’s direct and indirect investment in the THSRC.
As Lin is no longer a government official, the impeachment will not have any direct consequences for him, but the ruling can serve as a warning to incumbent officials dealing with the high-speed railway, the Control Yuan said.
Control Yuan member Li Ful-dien (李復甸) said Lin, who also doubled as chairman of an MOTC foundation in charge of Taiwan’s aviation industry development, allowed the foundation to invest NT$4.5 billion (US$136 million) in the high-speed rail venture in violation of its bylaws.
Li, one of the authors of the impeachment, said the foundation had received NT$300 million (US$9.1 million) in dividends from THSRC in 2005 but nothing since because of the high-speed rail company’s operating losses.
When THSRC was chosen to develop the high-speed rail line under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, it was not allowed to draw on government funds.
But Li said the company had received NT$39.4 billion in direct or indirect investment from the DPP administration, an amount worth more than 37 percent of THSRC’s equity, which was tantamount to “seriously reneging on the BOT spirit.”
Li said the impeachment would be referred to the Ministry of Justice for further investigation.
Meanwhile, Control Yuan member Yeh Yao-peng (葉耀鵬), another author of the impeachment, said the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had also failed to deal with THSRC’s irregularities.
“The administration is being kidnapped by THSRC because it doesn’t dare let the railway company go bankrupt,” Yeh said.