Embattled Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday approved the resignations of three senior aides, including his deputy mayor — part of the so-called “gang of four” advising him — in his latest attempt to salvage his November re-election bid.
“It was a difficult decision,” Hau said. “The personnel reshuffle was mainly based on the consideration that the city government needs to reform and start anew.”
Hau said he “reluctantly” accepted the resignations of Taipei Deputy Mayor Lee Yong-ping (李永萍), unpaid adviser Chuang Wen-ssu (莊文思) and Chuang’s wife, Ren Shiao-chi (任孝琦), a secretary in Hau’s office.
He said the decision had nothing to do with the elections and that the trio were not responsible for the controversy over the Xinsheng Overpass reconstruction project, in which the city was overcharged for construction materials.
While Chuang also serves as Hau’s campaign office director, Hau said Chuang was “just a volunteer.”
Asked whether Law Regulation Commission head Yeh Ching-yuan (葉慶元) had offered to resign, Hau said the resignations were not related to media reports.
The Chinese-language China Times on Sept. 2 quoted a party and government insider as saying that the “gang of four” should be blamed for the controversy over the overpass and upcoming Taipei International Flora Expo. The source accused Hau of being over-reliant on his inner circle, overestimating his ability and underestimating that of his opponents.
Lee said she resigned because she failed to help Hau manage the crisis. However, she said the two projects were not in her job description.
Lee was a People First Party legislator before she was recruited by Hau to lead the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs. She was promoted to deputy mayor in September last year.
Lee said she would now volunteer in Hau’s campaign office, adding that she was full of “fighting spirit.”
Meanwhile, Hau said he would establish another task force to deal with the crisis. This time, five outside experts will be hired to “thoroughly examine” the flora expo.
They are Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp chairman Ou Chin-der (歐晉德), KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), Performance Workshop founder Stan Lai (賴聲川), lawyer Lee Chia-ching (李家慶) of the Executive Yuan’s Public Construction Commission, and National Taiwan University of Science and Technology construction engineering professor Lee Hsien-heng (李咸亨).
A source in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said on condition of anonymity that the developments were unlikely to have a substantial impact on the elections.
The source said Lee’s resignation most likely was the result of pressure from within the KMT over the Hau administration’s handling of the pricing scandal, which has engulfed the city government.
“It was an act to protect Hau from any further negative impact from the scandal, but the resignations may have a small effect on stopping the bleeding,” the source said.
Additional reporting by Vincent Y. Chao