Kaohsiung mayor apologizes over bizarre three-mini-links event
Kaohsiung, June 28 (CNA) Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) has publicly apologized for the appearance of a city official at an event to promote a new ferry line between the city and China that turned out to be a farce.
Kaohsiung Tourism Director Pan Heng-hsu (潘恆旭) was the person censured for his participation in the June 25 inauguration ceremony of a three-mini-links route between Kaohsiung's Qijin Harbor and Dongtou Harbor in Wenzhou in China's Zhejiang Province.
The maritime route was later denounced by the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top China policy-making body, as a "fraud" because the two destinations are not part of the "three mini-links" between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Also, the ferry company supposedly operating the route had disbanded in mid-June.
At a press conference Friday, Han apologized for Pan's appearance at the event and pledged that the same mistake will not be made again.
The mayor, who is vying for the opposition Kuomintang's nomination in Taiwan's 2020 presidential election, faulted Pan for failing to check on the legitimacy of the event before showing up.
He did not say, however, if Pan will be disciplined for the mistake that has tarnished the city government's image.
Deputy Mayor Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) and Pan also attended the press conference to explain why the city official would join the ceremony.
Yeh explained that Pan had received an invitation to attend the public event at Kaohsiung Port's No. 21 wharf, which led him to believe that the event's legitimacy must have been verified in advance by the port authority.
It turned out, however, that the ceremony was held in a public park next to the wharf administered by the city's Public Works Bureau, Yeh said, and the organizers had not applied for a permit to hold a public event there.
The city government later found that the company sponsoring the event did not exist, and the route it claimed it would sail had not been approved by the relevant authorities, Yeh said.
The case is now being investigated by police and prosecutors for possible fraud or other violations of the law, he said, and reiterated that Pan's mistake was attending an event without checking it or reporting to relevant authorities beforehand.
Pan apologized for the "social disturbance" he caused and pledged to improve his conduct.
It remains unclear why the event was held in the first place.
Also on Friday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) instructed Kaohsiung's government to tighten its management and ordered police to investigate if the ceremony involved any crimes.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has found that the company claiming to operate the Qijin-Dongtou route, Shang Ho Shipment (上和海運), was disbanded on June 12 and not been granted the right to operate the service.
Also, the port in Wenzhou is not eligible to serve as a hub for the three mini-links.
The links refer to the direct trade, postal and transportation links between the Taiwan-controlled island chains of Kinmen and Matsu, and the ports of Xiamen, Quanzhou and Fuzhou in China's Fujian Province.
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