Monday, 5 March 2012

News Brief: official resigns over H5N2 "cover-up"

Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine director Hsu Tien-lai (許天來) resigned yesterday amid allegations he covered up a bird flu outbreak, a day after authorities announced they had culled thousands of chickens, Taipei Times reports today (full article here).

The piece also carries some more details carried yesterday by the Chinese-language papers about a possible cover-up (see NOMM here).
"According to Kevin H. J. Lee (李惠仁), a freelance journalist who spent more than six years investigating avian influenza in Taiwan and directed a documentary entitled A Secret That Can’t Be Exposed (不能戳的秘密), the council concealed the truth about the virus."

“In the process of my investigation, I discovered the situation is very different to what the council tells us. I discovered that the council has lied about the whole thing since 2004,” Lee said.

Additional reporting by Shad for NOMM:

According to Lee's documentary (see here: youtube),  Hsu Tien-lai has a habit of resigning to "take blame" only to be reinstated and promoted. Fourteen years ago he stepped down from his position as section chief to take responsibility during the foot-and-mouth epidermic. Interestingly, his co-resignee on that occasion, Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄), had risen as high as COA minister until the recent cabinet reshuffle and was, therefore, in charge of the council when Lee sent in his three dead chickens.

Lee claims Hsu sent back his chicken without testing it. When Hsu was questioned about this by local media yesterday, he said that as a public servant he was forbidden from receiving gifts from members of the public.

Perhaps for his role in undermining world animal quarantine and health regulations, thereby extending Taiwan's exports by two months or more, and protecting the income of Taiwan's poultry farmers, Hsu will be rewarded himself by appointment to COA minister in the not too distant future.

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