Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Councilors question Ko over ‘influence peddling’ by aide

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je speaks to the city council yesterday about alleged influence-peddling involving one of his close aides.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday rejected allegations of influence peddling that surfaced after a message sent accidentally via an instant messaging app on Thursday revealed that one of his close aides had attempted to land a job at the Taipei City Government as his alternative military service.

Taipei Department of Compulsory Military Service Secretary Hsieh Ching-jen (謝清仁) on Thursday afternoon sent a message to a private group used by city government officials that said Ko had instructed Chiu Yu-kai (邱昱凱), a specialist at his office, to arrange a job for Chiu’s friend, Chou Shih-en (周世恩), at the city government as Chou’s alternative military service.

Chiu was on Ko’s campaign team when he ran for mayor last year, while Chou was a campaign volunteer.

By law, conscripts are assigned to their respective units based on their performance at boot camp.

Hsieh later on Thursday said that his message had nothing to do with Ko, as the request came directly from Chiu and had not gone through the mayor.

Chiu tendered his resignation shortly after the incident broke, and Ko approved it.

Ko faced tough questions over the incident at a Taipei City Council meeting yesterday.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Wang Hsin-yi (王欣儀) cited a list of Ko administration officials who had gotten into trouble since he took office, including former EasyCard Corp chairman Tai Chi-chuan (戴季全) and Chiu.

Wang said that Ko had touted his former colleagues at the National Taiwan University Hospital Department of Traumatology as a “first-rate” team, and asked Ko how he would rate his current team.

The mayor did not respond directly to the question, but said he welcomed public scrutiny, which he said would help improve his administration’s operations.

“The best thing about a democracy is it allows close scrutiny. If there is a mistake, correct it,” he said.

Wang asked Ko whether his officials had conspired to act out a script aimed at deceiving the public concerning the incident — which Ko denied — and asked him to swear in the name of God that he had not given an order that Chou should perform his alternative military service at the city government.

“No problem,” Ko said. “I most definitely did not commit any influence peddling. I was not even informed of this matter.”

Taipei City councilors Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯) of the New Party and Lee Yan-hsiu (李彥秀) of the KMT urged Ko to clear his administration of troublemakers, with Chen urging Ko to improve control over his close aides.

Chen said that some of the mayor’s aides had overreached themselves and interfered with the city government’s operations, which he said had sparked resentment from other city government employees.

Department of Compulsory Military Service Chief Secretary Service Chen Jung-cheng (陳榮成) said that Hsieh had been handed two minor demerits for “misusing of his cellphone,” which had damaged the reputation of the city government.

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