The government “missed an opportunity to reform” the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) after the derailment of the Puyuma Express No. 6432 in Yilan County in 2018, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said yesterday.
Chiang made the remarks at a meeting of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee in Taipei after 50 people were killed and more than 200 injured on Friday last week when the Taroko Express No. 408, traveling from New Taipei City to Taitung, hit a crane truck at 9:28am as it was about to enter the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林).
“Passive inaction” gave rise to last week’s tragedy, Chiang said.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
In the aftermath of the 2018 incident, the Executive Yuan should have led an interministerial review of the TRA, he said.
However, the government missed the opportunity to reform the TRA, he said.
He accused Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of being uninterested in leading coordination among ministries and of neglecting “basic” tasks, including calling meetings of the Food Safety Board and the Public Safety Board.
After the Puyuma crash, Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) took over as minister of transportation and communications.
Lin in 2019 told an interviewer that strong support from the central government would be necessary for the TRA to successfully transform, Chiang said.
It was Lin’s opinion that without determination among people in the highest positions of power, attempts at organizational transformation would fail, Chiang said.
Those comments are “especially heartbreaking” in light of the present situation, he said.
If Su or Lin had “done a little more” before last week’s crash, there would not be so many grieving families, Chiang said.
If the Executive Yuan accomplished more and was less involved in factional struggles, political calculations and “meaningless internal propaganda,” perhaps tragedy could be avoided, he said.
“Such accidents cannot be forgotten, let alone ignored,” he said.
The KMT is to use its supervisory power as an opposition party to make the tragedy a turning point for reform of the TRA, he said.
It would continue to urge the Democratic Progressive Party to learn from and reflect on the incident, he said.
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