Tue, May 24, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Ko issues ultimatum to Farglory

“UNFAVORABLE”:Ko said that the city faced many challenges, including a clause enabling Farglory to pay no more than NT$3 million for not meeting obligations

By Lu Chang-chien, Kuo Chia-an and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je holds a placard with a picture of the Taipei Dome and the words “tear down” written on it while talking to campaigners outside the Taipei City Council yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday issued an ultimatum to Farglory Group (遠雄集團), saying that it has three months to comply with the Taipei City Government’s terms for continuing work on the construction of the Taipei Dome, before he moves to dissolve the build-operate-transfer contract with the developer.

Ko made the remarks during a report to the Taipei City Council, announcing a list of his demands to Farglory to be filed on Monday next week, comprising of seven safety-related items and 39 contract revisions.

The safety standard demands are to include a mandate for new safety evaluations of the site, as well as reductions in the size of the stadium’s commercial zone and its maximum occupancy, while the city also wants contractual revisions be made to 39 items that the Control Yuan had designated as improper.

In his report to city councilors, Ko also issued an apology to Taipei residents, saying: “I am sorry; I understand the public’s frustration, but I must insist on solving the situation now, so as to prevent the same problems from happening again.”

The city government had filed more than 300 documents to negotiate the continuation of the project in good faith, but Farglory spurned the city’s efforts by responding with delaying tactics and treating the dispute as an “essay-writing contest,” Ko said.

The Taiwan Architecture and Building Center (台灣建築中心) had not issued its approval of the stadium after a year-long fire safety evaluation of the structure and Farglory had failed to follow the approved blueprints, he said.

Ko said that the city faces many challenges, including the “extremely unfavorable” terms of the original contract that enable Farglory to pay no more than NT$3 million (US$91,866) for not fulfilling its obligations, while mandating the city government to buy back the contract at an evaluated market price.

Ko said that the nation’s justice system has proved “erratic” and “unworthy of public trust,” in punishing bribery with a NT$200 million fine rather than a prison sentence, in an apparent snipe at Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄), a former Farglory chairman who was convicted of bribery with his sentence suspended for five years and was fined NT$200 million, characterizing the ruling as “putting a price on justice.”

In response to questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Chin Huei-chu (秦慧珠), Ko said the city would not go to arbitration for the dispute, adding: “We will unilaterally dissolve the contract. If [Chao] is unhappy, he is free to litigate.”

Ko told Republican Party City Councilor Hsu Shih-hsun (徐世勳) that in the absence of a resolution satisfactory to the city government, demolishing the stadium “remains an option.”

Farglory Dome Co general-manager Jacky Yang (楊舜欽) accused Ko of using public safety standards in a manner that is “tantamount to blackmail” and of violating the principles of “a nation of laws” by “trampling on a private enterprise.”

The city government has the right to unilaterally dissolve any freely entered contract, but Taipei residents should know that the ensuing litigation would result in liabilities that are substantially greater than the mutually agreed sum that was stipulated in the original contract, Yang said.

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