Sat, Jan 17, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Mayor orders probe into aerotropolis

PUBLIC SCRUTINY:Taoyuan’s deputy mayor is to head an interdepartmental force to collect and review all information and forward it to the Agency Against Corruption

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Greater Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan speaks to reporters yesterday, saying that he will hand over information relating to the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project to the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption for investigation.

Photo: Hsieh Wu-hsiung, Taipei Times

Amid allegations of misuse of public funds and illegally favoring specific groups, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) yesterday said he would hand over all information relating to the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project to the Ministry of Justice’s Agency Against Corruption (AAC) for investigation.

“The city’s new administration team has simplified and limited the operations of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Corp (桃園航空城公司) to investment promotion and marketing only,” Cheng said in a Facebook post. “All jobs and duties that should be under the city government’s control will be returned to the city and handled by its bureaus. It would be a return to the normal process of policy execution and allow the project to be supervised publicly by elected representatives on the city council.”

Cheng said he had asked Deputy Mayor Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) to set up a task force composed of different local government bureaus — including budget, accounting and statistics, finance, economic development and civil service ethics — to oversee the special investigation of the aerotropolis firm.

Project documents will first be organized and reviewed by the task force before they are forwarded to the AAC for investigation, Cheng said.

“Only when Taoyuan has the courage to correct previous mistakes can it march forward into a new beginning,” he said.

Asked whether the move would mean suspending or mothballing the project completely, Chiu answered in the negative.

“The project consists of many parts and only those found to be problematic will be investigated and halted,” he said.

To address questions about the project’s opaque operations and functions, Chiu said: “It will be carried out according to five major principles, as the mayor has insisted: transparency, democratic participation, green economics, public interest and industry investment.”

“The corporation’s operation will be restricted to what was originally called for. That would place the rest of the business, including land appropriation, back in the hands of the city government so it can be publicly overseen by the city council,” he added.

The Taiwan Association for Human Rights welcomed the mayor’s action, and said it hoped the mayor would live up to the promise he made during his election campaign that he would place the whole project under investigation, especially in regards to “allegations of land speculation and insider trading even before the project had taken shape.”

Chiu said the city government welcomes any person or group to file complaints about what they consider illicit or to take legal action against suspected corruption.

Chien Chien-jung (錢建榮), a Taoyuan District Court judge who has long questioned the project’s necessity, criticized Cheng on Tuesday, saying that the mayor’s comment on “rebuilding the project from scratch after completely demolishing it” was nothing but “empty words.”

Calling for a “demolition and nothing more,” Chien wrote in a letter published by a local publication that neither Taoyuan nor Taiwan needs such a project, which has from the outset been synonymous with land speculation and collusion between government officials and the business sector.

“Mayor Cheng should easily see it now with the internal information available to him,” he added.

The city government released a statement on the same day rebutting Chien’s accusation that what Cheng has done is simply to “have a different group of people lining their pockets” with the project.

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