Wed, Oct 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lai denies falling out with Hochen

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Premier William Lai, left, and Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan answer questions about traffic arrangements for the Double Ten National Day holiday at the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday denied that there had been a disagreement between himself and Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) over preferential rules during the Double Ten National Day holiday that waives tolls for drivers using national freeways at night.

Despite the Executive Yuan approving the toll-free scheme for the holiday, Hochen on Monday discouraged drivers from returning to their hometowns using the freeways at night, as the reduced visibility could cause more accidents.

During a question-and-answer session with Lai and Hochen at the legislature yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) commended the Executive Yuan’s toll-free policy, but said that Lai and Hochen had apparently sparred over the plan.

Asked by Lo to comment on the issue, Lai said that Hochen is an expert on transportation and thanked him for the reminder about remaining safe while driving at night, adding that he hopes the public have heeded the caution, too.

Lo asked Hochen to clarify his stance on the policy, to which Hochen replied: “It is dangerous and should not be encouraged by the government.”

He said the policy was inappropriate, but added that since people have the need, he believed that it “would not hurt to provide them with more options.”

Lo said that the seemingly conflicting remarks worried him, as it suggested that a division could have occurred in the Cabinet.

Lai said that he respected Hochen’s remarks and that he hoped the public would drive safely if they use freeways at night.

The premier said that about 14 percent of people use the freeways at night during national holidays, citing statistics compiled by the ministry.

To encourage people to drive during the day, the Cabinet has decided to offer a 30 percent discount on toll fees when drivers use the freeways between 6am to 11am, and 2pm and 7pm on Saturday and on Tuesday next week, Lai said.

Asked if the government’s advice is for people to use the freeways in the day or at night, Lai said he respected people’s choices.

Lo urged the Cabinet to put forward a more convincing and consistent argument when it announces policies.

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