Premier criticizes minister for series of incidents at TRA

By Jimmy Chuang and Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Thu, Aug 30, 2007 - Page 2

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday criticized Minister of Transportation and Communi-cations Tsai Duei (蔡堆) for a spate of incidents involving the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA).

"We have assigned several new directors-general for the Taiwan Railway Administration within the past few months, yet railway incidents have continued. I am very frustrated about it," Chang said at yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

In the latest incident, more than 30,000 commuters traveling by train arrived late at their destinations on Tuesday after the TRA electronic signaling system for the Chidu (七堵) Train Deployment Station in Keelung failed during the morning rush hour.

On Sunday, a landslide caused a Tzuchiang Express train to derail near Shanli (山里) in Taitung County.

Also recently, six cars of a Tzuchiang Express train were labeled incorrectly. Passengers boarding the train in Hualien reportedly fought over reserved seats, causing a delay.

Chang yesterday asked Tsai to find out what went wrong and to discipline those responsible. He also asked Tsai to prepare a report explaining the problems.

At the meeting, Chang also criticized the Council of Agriculture, Council of Indigenous People, Ministry of National Defense, Sports Affairs Council, Council for Cultural Affairs and the National Science Council for unsatisfactory performances and asked the heads of these agencies to prepare reports within two weeks.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春), at a separate press conference yesterday, demanded Tsai shoulder the responsibility and apologize for the problems involving the TRA.

On the topic of the incidents, Tsai on Monday urged the public to have "the heart of a Buddha."

"An airplane exploded at Okinawa's Naha Airport, a travel agency went bankrupt, the traffic on Suhua Highway was interrupted by a landslide and six railway-related incidents happened in three days ... How can the minister of transportation and communications not apologize to the public?" Kuo said.

Kuo said Tsai should tell the public what measures the ministry would take to prevent these problems in the future instead of simply asking the public to forgive.

Tsai told reporters after the Cabinet meeting he would comply with the premier's request.

"Give me some time. I believe things will change," Tsai said.

Meanwhile, TRA Director-General Frank Fan (范植谷) apologized to the public yesterday for the TRA incidents.

Regarding the breakdown of the electric signaling system, Fan said the administration had asked the contractor to provide technology staff 24 hours a day.

In related news, Civil Aviation Administration Director-General Billy Chang (張國政) yesterday ordered all national airlines and the military to examine its Boeing 737s following a directive issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The US issued the directive following reports of 23 cases involving bolts on the wing slats of Boeing 737s coming loose.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and DPA