Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) will not ask Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) to resign over allegations he accepted a lavish birthday banquet from the nation’s largest mobile phone distributor, Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said yesterday.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) on Thursday also accused Yeh of forcing last month’s resignation of Chunghwa Telecom Co chairman Lee Yen-sung (李炎松) because he would not buy pricey shares in Senao International Co, the company from which Yeh allegedly accepted the extravagant party.
After consulting with Yeh and other Cabinet members, Jiang said that he would not ask for Yeh’s resignation.
The Presidential Office also said yesterday that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) respects the decision of the Executive Yuan after he discussed the matter with Jiang.
However on Thursday, while speaking at an event organized by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, Ma had said that when serving as its head, he “never accepted invitations nor was he treated to banquets,” instead ordering lunch boxes or meals at restaurants during inspection trips.
The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed suggestions that Ma made the remarks as a warning to Yeh and Ma yesterday shook his head and refused to comment when asked by the press whether Yeh will be forced to resign.
Yeh’s account of his birthday on Jan. 5 given at a regular Cabinet meeting on Thursday downplayed any suggestion of a birthday party that was organized by Senao.
Instead, Yeh said he was invited by friends and KMT Central Standing Committee member Chiang Shuo-ping (江碩平) to go hiking and ended the day with a modest meal at a farmhouse-turned-restaurant.
Yeh said as his ministry is the largest shareholder of Chunghwa Telecom, he was in the habit of coordinating disputes between Chunghwa Telecom and its subsidiary, Senao, over logistics strategies.
Yeh said that as Chunghwa Telecom owns less than 30 percent of Senao’s holdings, while the latter is the sole agent of the telecom, he made a suggestion to the telecom that it increase its Senao shares in the interests of good corporate governance and to help resolve the standoff between the two companies.
The minister denied that he had forced Lee to resign, saying Lee is stepping down later this month because of his age.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih