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.
The caucus said Wu, who served as head of Taipei City’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission under Ma’s municipal administration in 1999, played an important role in determining which electrical and mechanical system to purchase for the Neihu Line.
Wu also served as an adviser to Lai Fu Trading Co, contractor for the line’s electrical and mechanical systems, after leaving Ma’s administration in 2004.
“Being a major aide for Ma and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), Wu was deeply involved in the decision-making process behind the Neihu Line construction. Prosecutors should look into his role in the construction process,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) said at the Taipei City Council.
Hsu and DPP Taipei City councilors Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) and Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) accused Wu of accepting a hefty “adviser’s fee” from the company to secure the contract for the company.
Wu left the Ma administration in 2004. He became an adviser to the company and received a NT$90,000 monthly adviser’s fee between 2005 and 2006. He served as deputy Taipei mayor in Hau’s administration in 2006, but stepped down last year after he acknowledged having accepted money from the company.
Wu yesterday dismissed the DPP’s accusations, saying he received the money as a consulting fee for his expertise on national security and the military and for conducting research.
He denied being involved in the bidding process for the Neihu Line construction project and said the councilors should provide solid proof when making accusations.
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit