Tue, Aug 06, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Apologize or show proof, Presidential Office tells Ko

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, right, tries on an old street vendor’s hat at a museum in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times

Although President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is not involved in corruption, the people around her are corrupt, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday, drawing a rebuke from the Presidential Office, which demanded that he apologize if he could not present evidence to back his remarks.

Ko made the statement earlier yesterday at a news conference about the city’s policies on childcare and preschool subsidies, in which he was mostly asked by reporters about other political issues.

On Sunday night, the mayor wrote on Facebook that “today’s Taiwan should have other options, other than choosing between the pan-blue or pan-green camps, pro-independence or pro-unification with China, or getting rich or losing sovereignty.”

Ko wrote that a basic problem that Taiwan must first deal with is how to improve government efficiency, citing as an example the repeated failure of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s third terminal construction project to attract bidders.

Many public infrastructure projects have been delayed due to “political intervention,” which is not a common occurrence in a normal country, he wrote.

Shortly after, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) wrote on Facebook that the problem with the airport’s third terminal project lies in its construction difficulties and costs.

He asked Ko what “forces” he had to deal with when faced with the so-called “five scandals” involving five controversial city projects.

Asked to comment on Cheng’s post, Ko said that the lawmaker should practice self-reflection and think of how to make improvements when criticized.

The airport’s third terminal project is just like the Taipei Performing Arts Center, crippled by poor fiscal discipline, he said, adding that when there is a planned budget, it should not adopt a bigger or more complicated design that could lead to delays.

Ko cited several other city problems that he inherited, such as illegal residential units and long-stalled market renovation projects, to demonstrate govenment inefficiency.

He said he learned “not to complain, but just to deal with the problems at hand.”

“I supported Hsiao Ing [小英, Tsai’s nickname] on Jan. 16, 2016 [presidential election], but look at what you [Tsai] have done to the nation,” he said. “You are not involved in corruption, but everyone around you is knee-deep in graft.”

When asked to elaborate, Ko said: “Let the talk shows discuss [the issue] tonight.”

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said that “we understand Mayor Ko’s speech style, but corruption is a very serious accusation.”

“The Presidential Official firmly states that ‘one should say only as much as the evidence shows,’ a phrase that Mayor Ko has repeatedly used,” Huang said.

If Ko does not have the evidence to back his claims, he must clarify the issue to the public and apologize to those he has unfairly accused, Huang added.

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