Delays for Two Key Infrastructure Projects
Despite strong support from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) committee of the Environmental Protection Administration in early July rejected plans by the state-run CPC Corp. Taiwan to build Taiwan’s third liquefied natural gas receiving terminal project at Datan in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District. Increased reliance on LNG for power generation is a crucial component of the government’s goal to shift energy sources away from nuclear power and coal. However, environmentalists have opposed the project on the grounds that it would be harmful to rare coral reefs and endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks in the area. Members of the EIA committee said they were unconvinced that a suitable alternative site for the project could not be found.
In addition, in mid-July a tender to select a contractor to construct Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s Terminal 3 project was canceled when it failed to attract the minimum of three bidders. Previously the Taoyuan International Airport Corp. had pushed back the original target completion date from 2020 to 2022, and now the need to retender may necessitate further reconsideration of the schedule and an increase in budget. Terminal 3 is designed to handle 20 million passengers a year, and would bring the airport’s total capacity to 45 million a year.
Cabinet Undergoes Round of Reshuffling
After a first round of Cabinet reshuffles in February, changes in four other ministerial posts were announced on June 12. Interior Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong took over as Minister of Education following Wu Maw-kuen’s resignation and subsequent impeachment. Also replaced in the reshuffle were Minister of Transportation and Communications Ho Chen Tan, Finance Minister Sheu Yu-jer, and Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san. In a press conference, Premier Lai Ching-te said that the changes reflected the shift in the Cabinet’s priorities from policy creation towards implementation. Ho Chen was succeeded by Taiwan International Ports Corp. Chairman Wu Hong-mo, Sheu by Deputy Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong, and Chiu by Investigation Bureau Director-General Tsai Ching-hsiang. Yeh’s former position as Interior Minister was filled by spokesman for the Cabinet Hsu Kyo-yung. Also appointed in the reshuffle were National Palace Museum Director Chen Chi-nan and Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka.
Ex-Education Minister Gets Impeached
Former Minister of Education and former president of National Dong Hwa University Wu Mao-kun was impeached by the Control Yuan on charges of stealing Dong Hwa University patents and using university money to register the patents under his illegally formed business. The July 3 vote to impeach was unanimous after the 13-member committee found that Wu had violated the Public Functionary Service Act and the Act on the Recusal of Public Servants due to conflict of interest. A Control Yuan investigation begun in April 2018 revealed that Wu had founded the biotechnology company Spiranthes Biotech LLC in violation of the Public Functionary Service Act, which bans public officials from owning or investing in businesses. The investigation further found that Wu registered university patents to his own business, then approved provisions in the university budget covering the cost of the patent applications during his tenure as president. Wu denies the allegations.
Former NDC and FSC Chair Hu Sheng-cheng Dies
Hu Sheng-cheng, who worked closely with AmCham Taipei while serving as chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission in 2007-2008 and Minister of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (precursor to the National Development Council) from 2004 to 2007, died on July 10 at age 77. The Presidential Office issued a statement praising Hu’s contribution to Taiwan’s economic development and describing his passing as a great loss to the nation. After earning a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester, Hu taught at Purdue University before returning to Taiwan in 1996 to join the faculty at National Taiwan University. He entered government service as a Minister Without Portfolio in 2001. After stepping down from his position at the FSC in 2008, he continued as a research fellow at Academia Sinica and became chairman of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research in 2016 before falling ill in that same year.