Proposed penalties in train crash report too light: minister

2019/03/13 21:33:11 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) / CNA file photo

Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) / CNA file photo

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said Wednesday that the punishments recommended by a government committee against the people deemed responsible for a fatal train crash last year were inadequate.

Lin, who took office as transportation minster on Jan. 14, said he has returned the report to the committee and asked for a revised one, mainly because the recommended penalties were too light.

Once the causes of the Puyuma Express train accident have been investigated and it has been determined who was responsible, appropriate punishment should be meted out, he said.

For sake of the families of the 18 people who died in the crash, the 200 who were injured and the public, the blame should not be placed only on the shoulders of the train driver, Lin said.

Furthermore, all the reports on the Oct. 21, 2018 crash must be released to the public, Lin said, adding that such transparency will be a starting point for Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to institute reforms and regain public trust.

He said his ministry is assisting with the ongoing judicial investigation and wants to see the establishment of a transportation safety committee as soon as possible.

Lin has also taken issue with the recommendations in another investigative report on the accident, which was published last December.

In the report compiled by TRA and Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) committees, a major demit was recommended for former TRA Director-General Lu Chieh-shen (鹿潔身), who was in charge when the accident took place and has since resigned.

The report recommended that former TRA heads Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) and Frank Fan (范植谷) both be given a demerit. Fourteen other TRA officials were given punishments ranging from demerits to reprimands.

Chou is now director-general of the Tourism Bureau, while Fan is chairman of CR Classification Society, a non-profit non-governmental technical organization under the MOTC's Maritime and Port Bureau, Lin noted.

Fan was the longest serving TRA head, from 2007 to 2014, during which time the TRA purchased and took delivery of the Puyuma trains from Japan, Lin said.

If it has been clearly determined that Fan bore responsibility for the fatal Puyuma train accident, he should not be serving as chairman of a government-supervised organization, Lin said.

That shows a lack of distinction between right and wrong, the minister said.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Evelyn Kao)

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