The Ministry of National Defense (MND) could dissolve its minesweeper contract with the scandal-prone Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co (慶富造船), which could delay delivery of the first vessel to 2023, Vice Minister of National Defense Admiral Pu Tze-chun (蒲澤春) said yesterday.
Ching Fu was awarded a contract to build six minesweepers for NT$35.8 billion (US$1.2 billion) as part of the nation’s domestic warship-building program and seeking a new contractor could lead to substantial delays to the minesweeper program, the MND said.
Last month, Ching Fu became the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office on allegation of financial fraud, raising fears that the shipbuilder could go under.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
The Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee yesterday asked officials from the Ministry of Finance, Financial Supervisory Commission and MND to report on the state of the minesweeper project.
The MND’s report to the legislature stated that evidence of wrongdoing by Ching Fu would constitute grounds for contract cancelation.
Should cancelation be necessary, the MND would have the option of handing the contract to another shipbuilder, returning the procurement project to the tender phase or scrapping the minesweeper project, it said.
In response to questions by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), Pu said the defense ministry would prefer to leave the contract with Ching Fu, assuming that the shipbuilder could deliver on schedule.
Another shipbuilder had expressed interest in the assignment, he said, adding that he was not at liberty to disclose its identity.
Pu said he believes that if the contract were to be canceled, it would be because of a declaration of insolvency by Ching Fu.
MND Armaments Bureau’s head of procurement Huang Hsi-ju (黃希儒) added that should Ching Fu declare bankruptcy, the MND would be within rights to demand restitution from the shipbuilder.
Handing the contract to another shipbuilder would delay the project by one to two years, while reopening bidding on the project would cause a delay of three to four years, Huang said.
When asked by Chiang whether delivery of the first ship could be delayed to 2020 or 2023, respectively under the two scenarios, Huang replied in the affirmative.
Meanwhile, CSBC Corp Taiwan (台船) chairman Cheng Wen-lon (鄭文隆) said CSBC would be willing to take over the minesweeper project if it finds the government’s terms favorable.
Completing all six minesweepers by 2025 would be a tight schedule, as CSBC would have little time and canceling government contracts is time-consuming, an unnamed CSBC manager said.
The easiest way to move forward would be for CSBC to acquire Ching Fu and carry on with the latter’s obligations, the manager said.
“To make this happen, the government would need to give CSBC favorable terms to clean up the mess,” the manager said.
PACIFIC OCEAN: Defense experts have warned that the ‘Shandong,’ China’s second largest aircraft carrier, poses a serious threat to eastern Taiwan’s defenses The drills conducted by the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong in the Western Pacific last week were more aimed at showcasing China’s military capabilities to the US rather than toward Taiwan, a Taiwanese defense expert said yesterday. Lin Yin-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said the drills which involved dozens of warplanes sought to test China’s anti-access and area denial capabilities should the US and its allies attempt to interfere in a cross-strait conflict. Lin said that the latest Chinese drills coincided with a joint maritime exercise conducted by the US, South Korea
Thousands of bottles of Sriracha have been returned or destroyed after the discovery of excessive sulfur dioxide, a bleaching agent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday. About 12,600 bottles totaling 9,991.8kg of the hot sauce imported from the US by Emporium Corp (河洛企業) were flagged at the border for containing illegal levels of sulfur dioxide, the FDA said in its regular border inspection announcement. Inspectors discovered 0.5g per kilogram of the common bleaching agent and preservative, higher than the 0.03g permitted, it said. As it is the first time within six months the product has been flagged, Sriracha products from
Two people were killed and another nine injured yesterday after being stung by hornets while hiking in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳), with officials warning against wearing perfume or straying from trails during the autumn to avoid the potentially deadly creatures. Seven of the hikers only sustained minor injuries after being stung along the Bafenliao Hiking Trail (八分寮) and made their way down the mountain with a guide, the New Taipei City Fire Department said. Four of them — all male — sustained more serious injuries and were assisted when leaving the mountain, the department said. Two of them, a man surnamed
CHANGES: While NCCU opened the nation’s first co-ed dorm in Mucha, a recent survey showed that Taiwanese are in favor of abolishing gender segregation at high schools National Chengchi University (NCCU) has opened a co-ed dormitory, a first in Taiwan among state-funded Taiwan universities. The 22 duplexes are at the renovated “Huanan New Village,” in Taipei City’s Mucha (木柵) area, near the NCCU campus, a school official said yesterday. Twenty-two out of 37 group applications were selected in a lottery draw to select who would be chosen to live in the units, which can either be shared by up to eight students if the unit has four bedrooms, or up to 10 students if it is a five-bedroom unit, officials said. Completed in 1964 for campus staff housing,