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Taiwanese firm axes executive over flagrant statement about mass fish deaths in Vietnam

Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 15:31 GMT+7

The executive of the subsidiary of Taiwan’s Formosa company in the north-central Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh, who made a bold remark about a trade-off between marine life and the steel industry that has met with strong criticism from the public since Monday, has just been sacked.

Chou Chun Fan, head of the Hanoi office of the Formosa subsidiary, confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he had been fired by the company on Wednesday.  

Chou said on the phone that his dismissal stemmed from his making a shocking statement that triggered fierce opposition from Vietnamese citizens, adding that he deserved the axe.

“I have to take responsibility for my action. I hope that Vietnamese people will excuse me for my statement. Once again, I sincerely apologize to you,” Chou said.

He was scheduled to arrive in Hanoi on Wednesday afternoon to prepare for his flight back to Taiwan, according to Chou.

Formosa has been under fire from the public following Chou’s remark during an interview with local media on Monday, amid doubt that the firm’s wastewater discharge is to blame for mass fish deaths along the central coast.

Chou said that the Vietnamese authorities must decide whether to “catch fish and shrimp, or to build a modern steel factory.”

“You win some, you lose some. Even if you are the prime minister, you cannot choose both,” Chou said.

A meeting with media was organized by the Formosa subsidiary on Tuesday afternoon to address the remark of the head of its Hanoi office.

The conference was chaired by Truong Phuc Ninh, the company’s CEO, along with other high-ranking managers, and attended by nearly 100 reporters, all eager to report on the matter for their readers.

According to Ninh, Chou's statement was wrong and did not represent the viewpoint of Formosa.

“We would like to extend our sincere apology to the Vietnamese government and people,” the CEO said.

The incident happened amid the mass fish deaths that have been discovered along coastal areas in the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thu Thien-Hue, with authorities having failed to identify the exact cause so far.

According to a Tuoi Tre source, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is expected to convene a meeting with relevant agencies on Wednesday evening to make a comprehensive report on the case, as well as announcing the reason for the mass fish deaths.

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