Thu, Mar 14, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Lin asks TRA to review punishment for officials

PUYUMA ACCIDENT:Lin Chia-lung said that it hurt him to read the Taiwan Railways Administration report, which the public is likely to see in a negative light

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung answers lawmakers’ questions during a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday said that he has asked the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to review the punishments handed to former TRA officials over the derailment of Puyuma Express No. 6432 in Yilan County on Oct. 21 last year, adding that the agency should consider releasing the recorded conversations between the train’s driver and the control center if there is no legal issue.

Lin was asked to brief lawmakers at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee about the establishment of a railway technology research and certification center.

However, the committee meeting focused on how Lin planned to raise penalties for former TRA officials who were allegedly responsible for the fatal railway accident, after local media reported that he had on Tuesday rejected the final report on the accident submitted by the TRA.

Before Lin took office in January, the ministry had ruled that three former TRA directors-general — Frank Fan (范植谷), Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) and Jason Lu (鹿潔身) — were to receive demerits for the accident. Lu was given a major demerit, whereas Fan and Chou were each given a minor demerit.

Another 17 TRA officials were also penalized.

Lu chose to resign and retire, but Chou has since been appointed Tourism Bureau director-general, while Fan was named chairman of the CR Classification Society, a state-affiliated agency.

Although the TRA was asked to revise the final report on the responsibility that should be borne by the TRA officials, it concluded that the punishments handed to them should remain unchanged.

Lin said that Fan was in charge of purchasing and receiving the Puyuma Express trains, but remains the chairman of CR Classification Society, so the public is likely to see it as a sign that the government is not determined to improve the TRA’s operations and to simply let unjust situations continue.

Asked if the ministry has the authority to remove Fan, Lin said that the CR Classification Society is mainly a private institution, and the decision to remove Lin must be made by its board of directors.

However, Fan would no longer be able to represent the Ministry of Transportation and Communications at the society if it is ascertained that he was responsible for the accident last year, Lin said.

“Instead of anger, it pained me to read the TRA report that was left on my desk, especially after I saw that the punishment for former TRA officials remained unchanged,” he said.

The TRA can only regain the public’s trust by making information transparent, Lin said, adding that he had asked the deputy minister of transportation and communications to reconvene the disciplinary meeting so that the punishments could be made to correspond with the results of the administrative investigations.

The TRA last night announced that it would release the recorded conversations between the train driver and the agency’s operation center within two days, after consulting relevant agencies.

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