President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended his comments on Taipei City Government’s handling of flooding during the typhoon season, insisting that the flooding of MRT stations in Taipei during Typhoon Nari in 2001 unexpectedly prevented the city from suffering more serious damage.
“Many countries have built water conservancy infrastructure in non-traditional locations, such as in parks or low-lying areas. Of course, we did not design the MRT stations to be used for flood detention. It is just an example of flood detention pools in urban areas effectively preventing flooding,” he said when meeting reporters at the Presidential Office.
Ma’s comments came amid criticism of his previous remarks on the issue. While presiding over a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, he listened to the Ministry of the Interior’s report on the government’s handling of flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Trami.
Photo: Taipei Times
As Taipei mayor at the time, Ma shared the responsibility for the Taipei City Government’s handling of flooding when Nari hit Taiwan in 2001 and said while major construction sites were flooded, the MRT stations prevented the city suffering more serious flooding.
“Taipei Railway Station, MRT stations and construction sites were all flooded during Typhoon Nari. It was a serious disaster for the city and it took months to clean up. However, the flooding in Xinyi District (信義) was not as bad as we thought because MRT stations accidentally played a role as flood detention pools,” he said in the meeting.
Ma’s description of MRT stations as flood detention pools in the wake of Typhoon Nari drew criticism, with the Chinese-language Apple Daily running a story with the headline “Serious flooding in the wake of Typhoon Nari. Ma: Lucky to have MRT stations as flood detention pools.”
Ma said he was not indifferent to serious flooding in the city and said the government would devote more effort to flood prevention measures.
“Some people might interpret my comments in a negative way and think I was indifferent by describing MRT stations as flood detention pools. That’s not what I meant,” he said.
After cities in the south suffered serious flooding in the wake of Trami, the Executive Yuan said it would examine flood prevention infrastructure around the nation before determining whether to invest NT$60 billion (US$2 billion) to build more facilities.
Ma said he supported the Executive Yuan’s plan and said that with weather conditions getting more extreme around the world, the government would take other nations’ experiences into consideration when building flood detention facilities, while continuing soil conservation work.
The KMT yesterday also blamed the Apple Daily for distorting Ma’s comments and said that Ma meant to instruct the related government agencies to enhance flood prevention facilities in urban areas.
Unconvinced, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers lambasted Ma for his remarks, which they said described city residents’ plight as a success of his administration.
What happened in Taipei in 2001, which resulted in 26 deaths, serious flooding in half of the downtown area and in adjacent New Taipei City, then known as Taipei County, has been described as one of the worst examples of disaster preparation and relief in history, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) said.
“Ma at the time apologized to residents, but now he’s describing it as an achievement. It’s unbelievable,” Huang said.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.