Thu, Aug 23, 2007 - Page 1 News List

City government takes over Taipei Arena

`SHOCKED' Taipei Arena chairwoman Chiu Pei-ling condemned the move and accused Taipei authorities of violating their contract with scandal-ridden EMG

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Arena general manager Lin Ker-mo holds a press conference criticizing the Taipei City Government after city staffers and 30 police officers arrived at the arena and announced city authorities would take over the facility. Lin declined to leave the arena because he was afraid he would not be let back in.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taipei City Government caught scandal-ridden Eastern Multimedia Group (EMG, 東森多媒體) off guard yesterday by sending hundreds of staff members and 30 police officers to the Taipei Arena and announcing it was taking over the facility. EMG officials were then barred from entering the building.

Taipei City Secretariat Deputy Director Yang Hsi-an (楊錫安) said the move was made to protect the city's rights and property in the wake of EMG filing a petition with the Taipei District Court on Monday to validate its right to run the arena.

"With its legal action, EMG intended to delay the return of the arena, so the city government had no choice but to take back the property and annul its contract [with EMG]," Yang said at the arena.

Standing in front of the building, Taipei Arena chairwoman Chiu Pei-ling (邱佩琳) condemned the city's move and accused it of violating their contract.

"We are trying to resolve the dispute legally, but the city government refuses to trust the judicial system. As a Taipei resident, I am shocked by its actions," she said.

Taipei Arena general manager Lin Ker-mo (林克謨), who entered the building before city officials arrived and later refused to leave, said the city government was trying to take the law into its own hands.

Yeh Chin-yuan (葉慶元), commissioner of Taipei's Laws and Regulations Commission, defended the arena takeover, saying that the city was entitled to annul the contract and take back the arena under municipal land management regulations.

EMG officials said the regulations did not apply because the nine-year contract with the city was signed in June 2005, two months before the regulations were promulgated.

Yeh said that the regulations were drafted before the contract had been signed.

The city's Sports Department put the arena contract out for tender in 2005, when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was mayor.

The city's Education Department issued a public statement last week informing EMG that the contract had been annulled. The move came after EMG chairman Gary Wang (王令麟) was indicted on Aug. 13, along with 31 other individuals, on suspicion of violating the Securities and Exchange Law (證券交易法), the Banking Law (銀行法), the Company Act (公司法), the Insurance Law (保險法), the Government Procurement Law (政府採購法), corruption, breach of trust, forgery as well as other offenses in connection with several embezzlement scandals.

Wang was also charged with bribing city officials to win the arena contract, while former Taipei City Sports Department director Liu Jia-tseng (劉家增) was indicted on suspicion of helping EMG to win the bid.

Yang said the city government would run the arena for the next year, but would look for another company to manage it after that. He said the city would take care of the arena staff and firms that have been doing business with the arena as long as they were willing to sign new contracts with the city.

Chiu, Lin and dozens of EMG workers, however, vowed to continue fighting for EMG's rights.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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