Taipei, July 16 (CNA) Minister of Transport and Communications Mao Chi-kuo praised the outgoing Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) chief Friday during a ceremony to mark the changeover of the head of Taiwan's airport regulator, lauding his persistence and dedication.
Mao had admiring words for outgoing CAA Director-General Lee Lung-wen in particular for the roles he played in the launch of direct flights between Taiwan and China and the Taoyuan aeropolis project.
Noting that the airport is under a cloud of controversy, Mao also said new CAA chief Yin Chen-pong will turn the crisis into an opportunity.
The airport is involved in a series of scandals, including one in which a supervisor at its central control center was caught drinking on duty and another in which a manpower agency was found to have falsified personnel schedules to embezzle money from the airport.
The airport has also been accused of allowing illegal food vendors to turn the nation's gateway into a "night market " and has drawn widespread public criticism of its dilapidated facilities.
Following the string of incidents, Lee offered to step down earlier this month "for health reasons." Mao said that since Taiwan signed the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China June 29 and began cross-strait direct flight services last year, Taiwan has entered the post-ECFA era, which offers a good chance for the country to become a hub in East Asia and to help enhance the development of its air and sea transportation.
In the next decade, East Asia is expected to be a high economic growth region and Taiwan will have a chance to become a pearl in East Asia's crown, Mao went on. As far as the civil aviation industry is concerned, the airport has the potential to become a pearl in Taiwan's crown, he added.
The minister also said that if Taiwan wants to transform its industry, the airport's functionality and efficiency should first be upgraded so that it can serve as "a pioneer in the post-ECFA era." He did not elaborate.
(By Wang Shu-feng and Y.L. Kao)