Taipei City Government’s Department of Civil Affairs spent almost NT$100,000 on boxes of mooncakes for 256 township chiefs around the nation ahead of today’s Mid-Autumn Festival, drawing criticism from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday.
The councilors accused the department of soliciting support for Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) for election purposes.
The money for the mooncakes came from an annual budget to “promote exchanges with civil affairs departments and townships.”
The department sent 28 boxes in 2007, and the number of mooncake boxes given to other cities has increased annually ever since, with the budget rising from NT$8,960 in 2007 to NT$94,000 this year.
DPP Taipei City councilors Rosalia Wu(吳思瑤) and Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) yesterday lashed out at the department for giving gifts to township chiefs and department heads in other cities, and said the practice has become a political campaign tool for Hau as he eyes the 2016 presidential election.
“The city government should promote cooperation with other cities by fostering exchanges with them. Relations with other cities should not be built on a gift-giving culture. Hau will be the only one who benefits from this form of intercity relations,” Wu said.
The money spent on the mooncakes seems unnecessary as the city government has been facing financial difficulties and trying to obtain more money from the central government, Liang said.
The councilors also accused the commissioner of the department, Huang Lu Ching-ju (黃呂錦茹), of abusing her authority and the department’s resources to campaign for Hau.
They said it was not the first time she had done such electioneering, citing the time when the department put President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign slogans in the greeting cards sent to local borough chiefs in 2008.
“It’s not the first time Huang Lu used the department’s resources to campaign for Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] officials. Taking the Mid-Autumn Festival as an excuse for sending gifts to local chiefs is clearly another attempt to solicit electoral support for Hau,” Liang said.
Liao Hsueh-ju (廖雪如), a division chief at the department, said it is a custom for the department to send gifts to townships in other cities during the Mid-Autumn Festival, dismissing the councilors’ accusations of electioneering
“We have various cooperation with other cities as city-to-city exchanges, and it is our annual custom to send gifts and express our gratitude for their help,” she said.
There are no political motivations,” she said.