Taiwan's cabinet accepts minister's resignation over Kaohsiung gas blasts
Reuters in Taipei
Taiwan's cabinet yesterday said it had accepted the resignation of the economics minister who stepped down to try to ease political gridlock in the aftermath of gas explosions that killed 30 people and injured more than 300.
Dr Chang Chia-juch, who took up his post in February last year, submitted his resignation late on Thursday after a series of gas blasts ripped through several city blocks in Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest city, late on July 31.
The Executive Yuan, or cabinet, said in a statement that Taiwan's premier, Dr Jiang Yi-huah, accepted Chang's decision to go despite efforts to persuade him to stay at his post.
Several other senior officials, including the deputy economics minister and Kaohsiung city government officials, also submitted their resignations on Thursday.
Central and local government authorities have been in dispute over compensation for the blast and the costs of reconstruction.
Chang said last week that he hoped his departure from the cabinet would ease the political deadlock.
A new minister would be announced once a successor was determined, the cabinet said.
The explosions gutted a district in the port city packed with shops and apartment buildings.
Soon after the blast, Chang told reporters initial assessments suggested it had been caused by a leak of propylene gas, used in the production of plastics.
"[The resignation] is not great for sentiment, but the real impact isn't that big," said Chu Yen-min, president of KGI Securities Investment Advisory in Taipei.
Chu pointed out that Chang was not spearheading a major project or in the midst of directing key policymaking.