Ko cuts EasyCard salaries

‘FAT CAT’ GAME::A KMT insider said the pay cuts were part of a game to hide the special position created for one of Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s campaign advisers

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Apr 10, 2015 - Page 3

Salary cuts were announced yesterday for the chairmen of EasyCard Investment and Holdings Co and EasyCard Corp, following controversy over whether the dual appointments amounted to the Taipei City Government adding a sinecure.

EasyCard Investment Holding Co chairman Kenneth Lin (林向愷) and EasyCard Corp chairman Tai Chi-chuan (戴季全) emerged from a meeting with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) to say that their salaries would be cut by NT$50,000 (US$1,600) to NT$250,000 per month.

Factoring in regular annual bonuses, the reduction could cut their yearly salary to NT$3.5 million from NT$4.2 million, with no additional benefits.

Lin said the cut minimized any “shock” to the firm by protecting the salaries of other employees.

“Any lower and the firm’s entire salary structure would have to be adjusted,” Lin said.

He added that the monthly salary for the assistant general managers directly below the chairmen was about NT$220,000.

Because its salaries already reflect market rates, any cuts across the board would “finish” the firm by influencing its ability to attract and retain talent, he said.

The appointment of separate chairmen for the firms attracted criticism because of Ko’s earlier promises to eliminate “fat cat” positions within the city government.

Previously, EasyCard Corp heads also held the EasyCard Investment leadership role.

Lin reiterated that separating the functions of the firms was necessary, as the holding firm runs additional companies.

He said that additional spending was avoided by eliminating the EasyCard Corp chief executive role, whose duties Tai is to assume.

Tai — a Web entrepreneur who served as a Web consultant for Ko’s mayoral campaign — said it is important to respect the salaries set by the companies’ boards.

When asked about his ability to make a contribution to EasyCard Corp, he said his campaign performance spoke for itself.

Previously, Tai quoted Ko as saying that he understood that “paying [a salary of] bananas” would only “hire monkeys,” but Tai still had to prove he was not a monkey.

Taipei City Councilor William Hsu (徐弘庭) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), who was a special assistant to former KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) when Lien was EasyCard Corp chairman, said the salary reduction and elimination of the chief executive position were a “game” to obscure the fact that a special position had been created for Tai.

Given that the chairman is responsible for corporate vision, there is no need for two within the EasyCard family, he said.

Hsu added that neither Tai nor Lin would have been qualified to serve as chief executive — a role reserved for company insiders.