Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) Director-General Frank Fan (范植谷) has received two demerits following a spate of bribery allegations involving railway officials, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) told the legislature yesterday, adding that the ministry would complete its full investigation into the corruption cases within three months.
Late last month, six railway officials, including deputy director-general Chung Chao-hsiung (鍾朝雄), were detained for allegedly accepting bribes and sexual favors from a contractor bidding for the agency’s “Around-the-Nation Safety Enhancement Project.”
Last week the Investigation Bureau summoned another TRA deputy director-general, Huang Min-jen (黃民仁), along with 18 other officials and businesspeople, for questioning about suspected bribes in another bid to rebuild a section of a bridge over the Taimali River (太麻里溪) on the South Link Line. Huang was released on NT$1 million (US$34,000) bail on Friday.
Lawmakers on the Transportation Committee held a meeting yesterday to discuss the scandal and measures to prevent graft and corruption in public construction bids.
Fan repeatedly apologized for the scandal that has engulfed the railway agency and said he would not hesitate to step down.
“Corruption scandals have kept on happening. Someone should take responsibility,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said.
Yeh said that officials responsible for unreasonably low-priced bids, construction delays, design alterations or budget overruns should be given a low performance rating.
DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said Fan should resign and take responsibility for the corruption scandal, a suggestion that DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) seconded.
Mao said Fan had already been given two demerits and that the “ministry’s next goal is to eliminate corruption.”
The ministry also announced yesterday morning that Chung and the officials who had been taken into custody had all been given a major demerit and were suspended from their posts.
In response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Hung-chun’s (李鴻鈞) suggestion of a full-scale investigation into all problematic construction bids in the past five years and question on how long it would take the ministry to do so, Mao said: “We can complete it in three months and provide the information to the committee in the next legislative session.”
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