Tue, Jan 13, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Ko orders redo of ‘careless’ city property inventory

TAKING STOCK:The Taipei mayor said the past administration’s itemizing was sloppy and also panned the tax bureau for questioning his parents about a loan they gave him

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he has ordered all Taipei City Government departments to draft a complete list of all municipal property, after discovering that the controversial bus lane on Zhongxiao W Road includes a bus stop that is not listed as belonging to the city.

The move followed a statement by city government spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) that said former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) administration had failed to turn over a detailed inventory of city property when it handed over power to Ko’s administration.

“Because a substantial portion of the inventory was done carelessly, it is necessary to review all property records,” Ko said. “While roadside structures are difficult to inventory and it is unclear how they should be registered, they are still municipal property.”

Lee Kun-chen (李昆振), a section chief at the Taipei Transportation Department’s planning division, said that the city’s bus stops are normally not registered as belonging to the local government, but that the department is now reconsidering this.

Ko also criticized Hau’s management of city-directed construction projects, including the 2017 Universiade athletes’ village in New Taipei City’s Linkou District (林口) and a planned underground tunnel linking the Taipei Dome and the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

Meanwhile, Ko criticized the National Taxation Bureau of the Northern Area, amid reports that it summoned his parents to provide documentation showing that NT$10 million (US$313,000) they gave him to buy a new house had been a personal “loan” and not a “gift,” which would make it liable for taxation.

The move sparked speculation that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is targeting the independent mayor.

“The election is over,” Ko said. “This way of doing things goes beyond the scope of what ordinary citizens will stand for.”

He asked rhetorically if the government had nothing better to do, asking why officials had suddenly become so “industrious.”

Ko refused to comment further on the bureau’s actions, instead calling repeatedly for a “high-enough ranking” bureau official to give a public explanation before he says anything more on the issue.

“No one makes their children write out a receipt when lending them money,” Ko’s mother, Ho Jui-ying (何瑞英), said separately yesterday.

In a statement, the bureau said it was simply carrying out its duty to investigate all reports of tax fraud.

Bureau Director-General Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) was quoted by media as saying that the bureau had intentionally waited until last year’s Nov. 29 nine-in-one elections were over before pursuing the case against Ko’s parents.

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