Thu, Jan 24, 2013 - Page 3 News List

‘Potential graft’ in Changhua mugs

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party legislators and councilors hold a press conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday, accusing the Changhua County Goverment of profiteering from its purchases of souvenir mugs.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷), who is also the party’s caucus whip in the Changhua County Council, yesterday said a questionable procurement deal might add to the corruption allegations against the Changhua County Government.

The local government’s procurement bid of mugs between 2005 and this year appears to have favored Chi-hong Ceramics, which has close ties with Cho Po-chung (卓伯仲), the younger brother of Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源), who has been detained on suspicion of corruption, Wei and five Changhua County councilors told a press conference.

The corruption allegations have created political turbulence in the county, with the commissioner accused by a local businessman of demanding kickbacks in a golf club development project and Cho Po-chung suspected of manipulating several tenders, including for souvenir bags, ceramics and calendars his older brother distributed to supporters in the county and for allegedly receiving kickbacks from a contractor.

Chi-hong Ceramics was able to secure the procurement bids between 2005 and 2009 for a total of 500,000 mugs, with a bidding price of NT$32 per mug, until Classic Living surprisingly won the annual bid in 2010 by offering a price of NT$28 per mug, Wei said.

The local government later canceled the bid for 100,000 mugs, which was worth NT$2.8 million, without compensating the company, saying that Classic Living’s products did not qualify, he said.

The lawmaker said he could not tell the difference between the two company’s products, which were shown to reporters.

Chi-hong Ceramics won the bid again in 2011 with a bidding price of NT$28.6 per item, which was much lower than the bidding prices in previous years, despite the company being found guilty of bid-rigging in 2009 by the Changhua District Court.

“Available information shows that the government tried to make Chi-hong Ceramics the winner of the bidding every year. We call for the judiciary to probe all potential corruption committed by the Cho brothers,” Wei said.

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