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May 29, 2017

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MOTC chief regrets 'wrongful' accusation

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday said that he feels sorry about the controversy stirred by Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan's (蔡正元) accusation that Yeh accepted a bribe in the form of a lavish birthday bash, which Yeh claims was only a pork knuckle lunch with friends.

Yeh already denied Tsai's accusation on Wednesday that he accepted the party, held by Senao International Chairman Paul Lin (林保雍), to thank him for demanding that Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) purchase Senao's stock.

Tsai again accused Yeh yesterday, saying that the minister's real birthday party took place in a private location where cultural artifacts are stored.

Yeh held a press conference yesterday to deny Tsai's accusation again, and said that he cannot accept incorrect accusations.

"I feel really sorry ... because all criticisms should be made based on truths," said Yeh.

According to Yeh, there was no birthday party celebration on that day. Instead, Yeh said, it was just him and his friends having lunch after mountain-climbing.

"There was no luxury party celebration," said Yeh. "There was only vermicelli with pork knuckle for lunch."

When asked about the potential collusion between the Transportation Ministry and Senao, Yeh said that Chunghwa Telecom is the parent company of Senao, while the ministry is the major share holder of Senao.

"It is appropriate for the ministry to step up to understand and coordinate the conflicts between Senao and Chunghwa Telecom," said Yeh. "I do not consider this as a collusion between the ministry and Senao."

Yeh said that the group met at a public place, and he was the one who invited everyone to go to the lunch, so there was nothing fishy about the meeting.

"However, as a political appointees, I should be more careful and start to pay more attention to invitations for dining parties." said Yeh.

According to Yeh, Tsai's accusation has caused trouble for the officials in the Transportation Ministry and himself, which made it difficult for them to focus on handling the eTag toll collection system's issues.

In response to Tsai's statement that the form of interaction between a business owner and officials is "astonishing," Yeh said that the incorrect accusation made by the legislator is also "astonishing."

"I do have to apologize for not being able to handle the eTag system issues due to being distracted by the accusations," said Yeh.

He said that he only wanted to work hard and do his best on what he is supposed to do, and the decision on when he should leave the position will be decided by President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).

Lunch Invitation not Initiated by Me: Senao Chairman

The Senao chairman said at a press conference also held yesterday that he was not the person who invited people to attend the lunch, and he did not hold a birthday party for Yeh.

According to Lin, the business relationship between Chunghwa Telecom, the Transportation Ministry and Senao are very close, so it is normal for the three parties to get together and discuss business affairs.

"It was definitely not collusion between the government and businesses," said Lin.

Lin also denied the accusation that he had Yeh demand that Chunghwa Telecom purchase Senao's stocks.

On Wednesday, Yeh responded to Tsai's accusation by saying that he did talk to Senao and Chunghwa Telecom after the two companies had a conflict regarding Chunghwa Telecom's wish to sell mobile phones without the involvement of a third party like Senao.

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