Thu, Jul 23, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Councilors urge prosecutors to question Ma over MRT

GLITCHES The problems that have plagued Taipei’s new MRT line cast doubt on Ma Ying-jeou’s decision-making process behind the project, DPP city councilors said

By Mo Yan-chih and Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Prosecutors should question President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) about alleged profiteering and malfeasance in connection with the Taipei MRT Neihu Line, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors said.

The councilors, led by DPP Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠), visited the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigation Panel (SIP) yesterday to express their displeasure with the problems that have plagued the Neihu Line since it was opened to the public on July 4.

The line has suffered repeated glitches, including sudden stops and doors failing to open. Operations ground to a halt completely on July 10 because of a power failure.

The DPP councilors accused Ma of allowing certain companies to profit illegally from the construction of the Neihu Line, as well as making wrong decisions during his tenure as Taipei mayor.

Although Ma has amnesty from prosecution because of his position as president, the councilors urged prosecutors to open an investigation into the matter and bring Ma in for questioning as soon as his term in office has expired.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the matter, saying only they would process the case in accordance with the law.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) said the Neihu Line’s original plans did not include a stop at the Taipei Songshan Airport.

Ma’s decision to add the airport stop resulted in a NT$7 billion (US$213 million) increase in the project’s price tag, Hung said.

After the city government awarded the Neihu Line construction tender to Kung Sing Engineering Corp (工信工程), Kung Sing outsourced the project to Canada-based contractor Bombardier Inc, but the government is holding Bombardier responsible while letting Kung Sing off the hook, Hung said.

This is unreasonable, he said.

The number of problems that have occurred on the Neihu Line casts doubt on the decision-making process behind the construction of the line, Yen said.

“Ma’s aggressive direction of the decision-making process lies at the root of the MRT’s glitches,” she said.

Yen said that Ma’s choice of a ­medium-capacity, above-ground system had been a forceful rejection of an agreement reached by the Taipei City Council.

The Presidential Office said on Tuesday that Ma was following the Executive Yuan’s decision from 1993 to have a medium-capacity system.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元), who was a Taipei City councilor when Ma was Taipei mayor, said at a separate setting on Tuesday that Ma had been the one who decided to adopt a medium-capacity system and construct the line above the ground.

He urged Ma to take responsibility for his decision.

Tsai, a legislator from the Neihu District (內湖), said Neihu residents and local city councilors had urged the Ma administration to build the Neihu Line underground, but Ma decided to build the line above-ground because of construction difficulties.

“I don’t think it was necessarily the wrong decision, but I don’t understand why Ma refuses to admit that he made the decision,” Tsai said.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), a former Taipei City Government spokesman, also said that Ma had decided to build a medium-capacity line above the ground and it was this proposal that was sent to the Taipei City Council for approval.

Meanwhile, the DPP’s Taipei City Council caucus yesterday accused former Taipei deputy mayor Samuel Wu (吳秀光), a major aide to Ma during Ma’s terms as Taipei mayor, of taking bribes from a sub-contractor of the Neihu Line.

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