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Prosecutors question ASE chairman
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-27 04:47 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Prosecutors on Friday questioned three top managers at Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc., including its chairman, Jason Chang, about the recent pollution case in Kaohsiung.

The top global chip tester and packager’s K7 plant was forced to stop some of its operations earlier this month as punishment for the discharge of wastewater tainted with nickel and other heavy metals into the Houjing Creek.

Chang, chief operating officer Tien Wu and Kaohsiung general manager Raymond Lo were summoned for questioning by the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office, reports said Friday. Chang and Tien were interviewed separately while Lo had to wait in another room, according to media reports. The chairman reportedly hurried back from the United States after he received a summons to appear before prosecutors.

Chang was listed as a defendant because he was sued by a local politician, but the two other managers appeared as witnesses in the case officially involving endangering the public. Prosecutors reportedly wanted to determine how high up the company’s hierarchy the knowledge about the practices at K7 reached. All three men were allowed to leave a few hours later but did not speak to reporters.

The company’s initial claims that the release of polluted wastewater was the result of a short-lived accident which would not occur again touched off a public outrage. Inspectors for the Kaohsiung City Government’s Environmental Protection Bureau accused the company of having installed secret pipelines to take untreated waste straight into the sea and of having tried to dilute waste water to fool investigators.

The EPB first fined ASE the maximum amount of NT$600,000 (US$20,000) and announced it was considering ordering a production stop. After further investigation, it confirmed its findings and effectively told K7 management to suspend operations. The manager of the plant, Su Ping-shuo, was detained and ASE vice president Lin Hsien-tang was released on bail.

As officials said an application by ASE to resume work at the factory might take up to five months, Chang visited Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu last Sunday.

Water from the Houjing Creek is frequently used to irrigate hundreds of hectares of rice paddies and other farmland in the area, causing fears of harm to public health.

The K7 plant is just one of 17 factories ASE runs in the Kaohsiung area, but the single plant was the ninth-biggest discharger in the city, releasing wastewater 24 hours a day. Suspicions of misbehavior by the company later spread to its plant in Chungli, Taoyuan County.

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