Lin Yi-shih rejects bribery claim
CLEAN GOVERNMENT: The DPP called for an immediate investigation into the allegations, saying Ma should explain the actions of his Cabinet secretary-general
Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih yesterday denied allegations that he attempted to demand more money from a company that had given him NT$63 million (US$2.15 million) as a bribe for helping it with a procurement contract when he was a lawmaker.
Calling a press conference at the Executive Yuan in response to a report in the latest issue of the Chinese-language Next Magazine, Lin said he was considering legal action to prove his innocence.
The Next Magazine report alleged that Lin helped Ti Yung Co secure a two-year contract to procure slag and iron-bearing materials from China Steel Corp, the nation’s largest integrated steelmaker, and that Lin received NT$63 million from Ti Yung in return for his assistance.
Lin was then a lawmaker of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). He was appointed to his current post after President Ma Ying-jeou was re-elected in January.
The report claimed that Lin used his position to ask state-run China Steel not to renew its contract with Ti Yung after Ti Yung allegedly turned down Lin’s request for a fund of NT$83 million.
The magazine based its allegations on information provided by Chen Chi-hsiang and his wife, who were in charge of Ti Yung. It said Ti Yung was on the verge of collapse as China Steel had stopped supplying the company with materials as of April 1.
It said Chen then tried to seek Lin’s assistance after April 1, but Lin turned him down.
It added that this led Chen to report the case to the media to “save the company and its employees’ livelihoods.”
Lin said the accusation was “ridiculous” because he, as secretary-general of the Executive Yuan, does not have the power to decide on any contracts China Steel signs with downstream companies.
To disprove the report, Lin presented several documents from China Steel, which stated that it was the Greater Kaohsiung Government that demanded that China Steel Corp stop providing slag to Ti Yung because of environmental issues.
Lin said he had “no reason, no power, whatsoever” to influence the Greater Kaohsiung administration.
At a separate press conference, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Ma should explain to the public how he would handle the bribery allegation against Lin, one of the highest-ranking officials in the country.
Ma has always stressed the importance of eradicating government corruption and has demanded that his fellow KMT members and government officials conduct themselves in the same manner, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien said.
Lin Yi-shih had also written on his blog that “cleanness is the first priority of a politician,” Lin Chun-hsien added.
Ma needs to personally explain then the allegations against Lin Yi-shih, who is among a handful of young KMT up-and-comers that the president has been grooming, the spokesperson said.
The DPP legislative caucus said it was shocked to learn about the reported incident and made three demands at the press conference.
“The caucus demands Lin Yi-shih immediately explain in detail about the alleged scandal. We also demand that Premier Sean Chen suspend him immediately and that the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID) launch an investigation immediately,” DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chiun said.
Given the full details reported by the magazine, “it is hard to believe that the corruption allegation is untrue,” she said, adding that Lin Yi-shih had admitted that he knew the company’s owner.
The allegation is the latest in a string of similar scandals involving state-run companies, such as Taiwan Power Co and CPC Corp, Taiwan, and the government should conduct a thorough investigation into these companies, DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi said.
With the Legislative Yuan scheduled to hold an extra session starting on July 25 and the executive and legislative branches expected to battle anew over the ractopamine-in-beef and capital gains tax issues, Lee said the government should present the results of its investigations when the session opens.
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi said Lin Yi-shih had discussed the content of the magazine report with Ma on Tuesday and the president asked him to clarify the issue as soon as possible.
“Integrity is a basic moral standard for a public servant, and there is no gray area ... Over the past four years, President Ma has insisted on integrity for himself and has adopted the same standard for his administration,” Fan Chiang said.
The scandal came as a surprise for the KMT and the Ma administration. Lin Yi-shih is one of the promising stars in the KMT who has served as KMT vice chairman and caucus whip in the legislature.
Although he lost in the legislative elections in January, he remains a key member of the KMT and has been touted as the party’s potential candidate in the next Greater Kaohsiung mayoral election.
SID spokesman Chen Hung-ta said State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming had asked the agency to collect the information from the magazine and to launch an investigation into Lin Yi-shih.
In other news, China Steel issued a statement later yesterday saying it had decided to stop supplying slag to Ti Yung because the company had violated a contract by depositing excess amounts of the industrial waste.
China Steel said Greater Kaohsiung’s Environmental Protection Bureau notified it on March 23 that Ti Yung had been banned from accepting new slag because it was already storing “a large amount of metal slag.”
Although the bureau revoked the ban on June 1, it nevertheless required Ti Yung to remove the metal slag it had stored at six different sites within six months, China Steel said.
The company said it would continue to suspend slag supplies to Ti Yung until the situation has improved.
By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang
28 June 2012
Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih holds up documents at a press conference in Taipei yesterday to prove his innocence after a weekly magazine alleged that he accepted bribes.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
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