TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwanese government has dismissed speculation that it will use public donations for the victims of a tragic train accident in Hualien County earlier this month and their families to cover state compensation.
On April 2, the first day of Taiwan's Tomb Sweeping Festival, a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) express train derailed near the Daqingshui Tunnel in Hualien County after hitting a crane truck that had slid down from a nearby construction site. A total of 49 passengers were killed, and more than 200 suffered minor to moderate injuries.
Shortly after the incident, the Ministry of Health Welfare (MOHW) set up a relief fund for the injured's treatment expenses and to offer financial support for victims' families. However, a few members of Taiwan's main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), have questioned the legitimacy of fundraising efforts by the central government, with some even accusing the Tsai administration of mishandling donations in the past.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday (April 14), President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) addressed public concern about donations for the train disaster and promised that 100 percent of the raised funds will be directed toward the victims, their families, and rescue workers involved in the accident. She emphasized that all expenditures will be made public and that an oversight committee has been established to regulate how the donations will be spent.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) made a similar clarification on the speculation a day earlier. He stressed that the government will take full responsibility for the derailment and that it is committed to taking care of the victims and their families.
Meanwhile, Kaohsiung City Councilor Huang Chie (黃捷), a political independent, slammed the KMT for making "disgusting" political manipulations during a time of national tragedy. She urged the party to stop pushing its political agenda by defaming the central government with unfounded claims.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the MOHW has received a total of NT$960 million (US$33.7 million) in donations through its relief system. He said the first round of funds will be provided to those affected by the accident as soon as next week.