Former Tourism Bureau director-general Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) has been demoted to a Ministry of Transportation and Communications counselor for failing to ensure that all bureau employees comply with the government’s disease prevention efforts, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
Chou’s demotion came after a bureau employee stationed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s Tourist Service Center contracted COVID-19 (case No. 269), who then infected his five-year-old son (case No. 299).
The kindergarten that his son attended was also ordered shut for 14 days.
A ministry investigation has found that the center director on March 20 ordered the employee to greet the bureau chief secretary’s son, who was returning from the Philippines, and to take him to have coffee while he waited for his father to pick him up.
At the time, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) had raised its travel advisory for the Philippines to a level 3 “warning,” meaning that the son had to directly take a designated “disease prevention” taxi or arrange to be picked up and quarantine himself at home for 14 days.
Instead, the employee spent about 30 minutes accompanying the director’s son before his father arrived, the CECC said.
The director’s son later tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the nation’s case No. 277.
The investigation also found that the chief secretary had only verbally requested permission to leave the office and no such request could be found in the human resources system.
As picking up a family member does not constitute urgent business, he did not follow due procedure when asking for a leave of absence, the ministry said.
The chief secretary was last week demoted to bureau specialist, as his actions have damaged the government’s disease prevention efforts, while the center director was removed from office and placed in a different position at the bureau’s headquarters in Taipei.
The ministry at the time said that Chou would also be held accountable.
“It was his negligence that caused the bureau’s employee and his five-year-old son to contract COVID-19. The ministry has removed him from office and transferred him back to ministry headquarters as a counselor. For now, bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰) will serve as acting director-general,” Lin said.
Chou said that the accusations were leveled against the chief secretary, but added that he personally had nothing to do with the accusations and he had simply followed administrative procedures to do his job.
Chou said that he fully respected the ministry’s decision and hoped that the matter ended there.
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