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Transportation minister to stay on
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-18 03:06 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Jiang Yi-huah decided that Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih should stay on for the time being despite allegations of conflict of interest, reports said Saturday.

Ruling Kuomintang lawmaker Alex Tsai accused Yeh of having been present at a lavish birthday event thrown by Senao International Co., Ltd. earlier this month despite complicated relations between the company and Chunghwa Telecom, which has significant government investment.

Yeh denied the allegations, saying that the event was a simple meal which took place among friends who had gone hiking in the hills together. He said he might take legal action against Tsai into consideration.

Cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wun said Saturday that the premier had never even considered the question of whether Yeh should leave the Cabinet or not.

The minister had explained his side of the case to the premier and to his colleagues at a regular Cabinet meeting, and Jiang had decided there was no need to replace him for the time being, reports said.

President Ma was leaving Yeh’s fate in the hands of the premier, after discussions between the two senior officials had concluded that even though the minister might h have made mistakes, they were not serious enough to warrant his removal, reports said.

Tsai came up with new allegations Saturday, accusing Chunghwa Telecom of having paid too much for cellphone towers even though a more advanced model would have cost less. The company rejected his claims, saying the total cost also included other services and elements in addition to the towers themselves.

The lawmaker originally accused Yeh of having forced out Chunghwa Telecom Chairman Lee Yen-sung late last year over his refusal to buy more shares in Senao, the company which sells mobile handsets on the telecommunications giant’s account. Lee repeatedly dragged his feet and refused to spend large sums of money on the Senao shares, Tsai alleged.

After Lee went into retirement, Senao President Paul Lin threw the birthday party for the minister on January 5, Tsai said.

Lin returned from an overseas trip to tell reporters that he had never had the intention of selling more shares in Senao.

The minister explained that he had wanted Chunghwa Telecom to raise its stake in Senao so it could make more money from the sale of handsets to the public. Yeh said he had organized a meeting between the two companies and interested parties to discuss the case.

Tsai’s accusations came as Yeh’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications was already embroiled in the controversy surrounding the eTag electronic freeway toll collection system amid accusations of overcharging.

A ministry disciplinary committee decided Friday to give National Freeway Bureau Director General Tseng Ta-jen a double sanction for a failure of proper oversight.

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