Legislators angry about no-show by THSRC boss

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Oct 01, 2013 - Page 3

Legislators serving on the Transportation Committee passed a resolution yesterday holding Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) chairman Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) in contempt of the Legislative Yuan for failing to brief it about the company’s plan to raise ticket prices, adding that Ou should be removed from his position as a government representative.

The resolution also stated that the high-speed rail operator must not raise ticket prices before the committee approves its new pricing scheme.

The committee had invited Ou, Taiwan Railway Administration and Civil Aeronautics Administration directors and representatives of four domestic airlines to answer questions about plans to hike ticket prices.

The high-speed rail’s new pricing scheme is due to take effect a week today, while domestic airlines plan to raise ticket prices on Jan. 1. The Taiwan Railways Administration has yet to adjust ticket prices.

However, Ou did not attend the meeting, which angered legislators.

THSRC’s representative told the committee that the chairman is currently abroad, but he did not know which country Ou was in.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Jonathan Chen (陳純敬) tried to call Ou’s cellphone, but there was no answer.

The committee then passed a resolution condemning the high-speed rail operator. In it, lawmakers said that government intervention saved the debt-ridden organization in 2010.

However, the THSRC claims that its plan to hike ticket prices was reasonable and called opposition to it “political intervention” or “populism,” the resolution said.

The resolution also noted that although the high speed rail company is a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project, it is a de-facto state-run corporation. It said Ou is on the THSRC board of directors assigned by the China Aviation Development Foundation, which is owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. As the chairman, Ou is obliged to report to the committee.

The ministry should be held responsible for Ou’s behavior and replace him, the resolution said.

Although the THSRC called the committee to request a leave of absence, Ou should have done this himself, the legislative body said.