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.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
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.”
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
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.
REACHING OUT: President Tsai expressed condolences to the deceased man’s family and wished a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the shooting The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) on Monday called on the US to label organizations associated with the suspect in the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting as domestic terrorists, following accusations that he was a member of a group backing unification with ties to the Chinese government. David Wenwei Chou (周文偉), 68, was arrested on Sunday and is being held in lieu of US$1 million bail at the Orange County Intake Release Center over a mass shooting at the California church that left one dead and five wounded. Local police suspect the shooting was politically motivated after they found notes in
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
OPPOSING CHINESE ‘HOSTILITY’: The bill orders the state secretary to create a plan to regain observer status for Taiwan, saying Taipei is a model contributor to world health US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), demonstrating Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. Friday was the deadline for Biden to sign the bill (S.812), which directs “the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for other purposes.” The 75th WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday next week to May 28. The bill, introduced by US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate
‘DAMOCLES SWORD’: An Italian missionary said the arrest of cardinal Zen is a blow for the church in Hong Kong, China and the world, signaling great danger ahead China yesterday defended the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a move that triggered international outrage and deepened concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory. Retired cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, was among a group of veteran democracy advocates arrested on Wednesday for “colluding with foreign forces.” Pop singer Denise Ho (何韻詩), veteran barrister Margaret Ng (吳靄儀) and cultural studies academic Hui Po-keung (許寶強) were also arrested, the latter as he attempted to fly to Europe to take up an academic post. Cyd Ho (何秀蘭), a democracy