Thu, Jan 22, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Ex-transportation minister criticizes DPP over THSRC

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Former minister of transportation and communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday said that the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) blocking of an amendment to the Statute for Encouragement of Private Participation in Transportation Infrastructure (獎勵民間參與交通建設條例) was an “undisguised move” intended to benefit specific corporations.

Yeh is showing no signs of ceasing his efforts to get the public to focus on the financial quagmire facing Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC), the operator of the high-speed rail system, following his resignation after the company’s financial restructuring plan failed to secure approval at the Legislature’s Transportation Committee two weeks ago.

Since then, he has appeared on two political talk shows to defend the necessity of enforcing the financial restructuring plan to save the debt-ridden company.

Yeh went on a radio program yesterday afternoon stressing the urgency of amending the statue.

“The government would have to take over the operation of the high-speed rail system once THSRC goes bankrupt, but the statute only authorizes the government to take over the system without listing its rights or obligations. This is why the Ministry of Transportation and Communication proposed the amendment to the statute,” Yeh said.

Yeh said the amendment was quickly passed at the legislature’s Transportation Committee on Thursday last week.

However, he said that the DPP insisted that the amendment needed further negotiations on Monday, but the talks failed to materialize because no DPP lawmakers showed up at the meeting.

“This means that the amendment will have to be handled at the next legislative session,” he said. “Until then, DPP can always find another excuse to boycott the amendment.”

“The entire process was because of the party’s intent to benefit certain corporations,” Yeh added.

Yeh also said that some of the shareholders told reporters that they would rather go bankrupt and than accept the financial restructuring plan.

He said that the DPP is betting on a result from arbitration over three major disputes involving NT$390 billion [US$12.38 billion], in which the company is to argue changes in circumstances.

The disputes includes subsidies for elderly and disabled passengers, the 921 Earthquake in 1999 and overestimation of passenger volumes.

“If the arbitration goes its way, the company could get back NT$100 billion to NT$200 billion,” Yeh said, adding that the financial restructuring plan takes all these factors into consideration.

Yeh said that the DPP previously seemed undaunted by the possibility of a government takeover and even accused the government of benefiting certain operations, but now it is blocking the amendment that could save them from numerous lawsuits.

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