In a surprise announcement yesterday, Yang Hsi-an (楊錫安), Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) pick for the position of deputy mayor, said he would not take up the position because the controversy surrounding his possible role in a construction scandal meant he would not be able to do his job properly.
Yang, the former Taipei City secretary-general, was removed from office after Taipei prosecutors filed charges against him last year. Yang is alleged to have abused his powers during a bidding process for the Xinsheng overpass project in April 2008 that ended in controversy after it was found that the city paid far more than it should have for the construction work.
“The continued suspicions over my integrity are only rubbing salt in the wounds and it is completely unacceptable,” Yang said, adding that taking the appointment under such an air of suspicion would make it impossible for him to completely focus on helping Hau run the nation’s capital.
After telling Hau twice yesterday he could not accept the appointment, the two met behind closed doors, after which Hau was “forced” to accept Yang’s refusal.
The two held a joint press conference in the VIP room of Taipei City Hall in the afternoon.
Hau said his appointment of Yang as one of his deputy mayors had been made at a time when the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office had decided not to indict him in the Xinsheng overpass case and after the Control Yuan described Yang as “an exemplar of civil service.”
Yang’s performance in terms of professionalism in construction matters, as well as his credibility and trustworthiness, were all factors leading to his appointment as deputy mayor, Hau said.
Last month, the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office ordered Taipei prosecutors to reopen the investigation into Yang’s role in the scandal.
“After our talks and realizing that I cannot persuade him to accept the appointment, I was forced to accept his refusal,” Hau said.
A candidate search for the position of third deputy mayor will thus continue and the results will be announced at an appropriate time, Hau said, adding that the decision to accept Yang’s request was his own and that there had been no outside interference or pressure in the process.
In response to his being made a defendant in the case, Yang said there was only one truth and that he was innocent, adding that he also believed the judicial process would clear his name.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer