Transportation minister apologizes over wave deaths

By Joy Lee ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday issued a press release to apologize to the public and the families of the eight victims who lost their lives in the rogue wave accident last week.

Eight students from Shulin Community University in New Taipei City were swept out to sea by rogue waves on Saturday afternoon while walking on the coastal pavement of the Longdong Geopark in Gongliao District, and were later pronounced dead. Yeh also pointed out that the Director of Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area Hsu Cheng-long (許正隆) did not respond to the accident immediately.

Regarding Hsu’s statement that he will only take “moral responsibility” for the accident, which triggered public outrage, Yeh said that Hsu did not consider the feelings of the victims’ families in his statement.

According to Tourism Bureau Director David W.J. Hsieh (謝謂君), Hsu applied to be transferred to another position as punishment for his action and speech. Hsieh said that he granted the request on Monday.

Yeh also stated in the press release that the Tourism Bureau will definitely assist the families of the victims in taking care of anything. Deputy Transportation Minister Chen Chien-yu (陳建宇), Hsu, and Hsieh yesterday all bowed in apology on behalf of Yeh to the public and victims’ families regarding the accident.

“The ministry will review all safety measures of the national scenic areas and also request that the Tourism Bureau propose a complete review regarding this accident,” said Chen.

Hsieh said that Hsu did explain that he is willing to take more than moral responsibility but also the legal and administrative responsibilities, so he requested to be transferred to another position as punishment.

“Seven out of the 13 national scenic areas that the Tourism Bureau is responsible for are located along the coastlines,” said Hsieh. “The bureau already invited experts to review the safety measures of the areas and a report will be conducted and finished by Nov. 25.”

No Grievance: Hsu Hsu yesterday said that he did not feel aggrieved about requesting to be transferred from his current position as punishment for the accident.

“I sincerely apologize to the victims’ families and accept all criticism from the public,” said Hsu. “The most important thing for me is to fight for the best compensation policy for victims’ families.”

Hsu said that he was in Yilan County for work when the accident took place. He said that he immediately called the vice director after receiving information about the accident and rushed back to his office to take care of the incident.