Sat, Aug 29, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Ko to make EasyCard Co solely public or private

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said that he is seeking to transform Taipei EasyCard Co into a company run solely by either the public or private sector to make its management less problematic, amid controversy surrounding its plan to issue cards featuring pictures of a Japanese adult video actress.

Responding to media questions before a meeting to discuss progress on the city’s transportation infrastructure, Ko described the controversial move by the company — which is partly owned by the city government — as a result of “Murphy’s law.”

He said the firm is made up of 40 percent city government holding and 60 percent private-sector holding and as such, the firm’s operations concern the city government to a large extent.

He said that he told EasyCard Co chairman Tai Chi-chuan (戴季全) at a board of directors meeting that it is better that the company does not make too much profit and that it should invest in other areas to cap its profits.

Citing the contentious card covers as an example, he said that the incident prompted him to take the company’s “partly private, partly public” nature seriously.

“When 60 percent of profits is taken by private enterprises, problems can arise,” Ko said.

He said that he would discuss with the company’s directors whether the firm is to undergo a transformation that would make it a private entity subject to free market competition, or an entirely public “monopoly” that provides the only pre-paid card accepted for public transportation.

He said that many people believe that the city government oversees EasyCard, but it is just the largest shareholder, adding that he is not on Tai’s board of directors.

Asked if Tai should step down over the controversy, he said that the board of directors would make that decision, adding that he would concentrate on the firm’s structural problem.

EasyCard spokeswoman Lin Hsiao-chi (林筱琪) said 15,000 “demon” EasyCards featuring images of Japanese adult video actress Yui Hatano would go on sale on Tuesday next week as planned, while the controversial “angel” cards, showing Hatano with some cleavage, would be redesigned before hitting the market in the middle of next month.

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