Hau grilled on alleged meetings with Lai

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - Page 1

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday dismissed allegations that he met frequently with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如) before the Taipei Twin Towers bribery scandal broke, and threatened to take legal action against Next Magazine over the “groundless accusations.”

The latest edition of the Chinese-language magazine quoted a former assistant of Lai as saying that Hau paid frequent visits to Lai’s office in Tapei’s Beitou District (北投) before the Lunar New Year holiday in February, and that the two held private meetings at least twice a week.

Lai was taken into custody on suspicion of accepting a bribe during the bidding stage of the project. As the former director of the KMT chairman’s office for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), she is alleged to have facilitated communications between Hau and the KMT.

Hau yesterday said that he had not visited Lai’s office since his mayoral campaign in 2010 and had only met her at public events during the Lunar New Year.

“The story in the magazine is inaccurate. We will consider filing a defamation lawsuit against the magazine for making groundless accusations,” he said at a question-and-answer session at the Taipei City Council.

Taipei City councilors took turns questioning Hau and city officials over the stalled Taipei Twin Towers project and bribery allegations.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) and Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) questioned Hau over allegations that his former adviser, Chuang Wen-ssu (莊文思), leaked the names of the members of the committee tasked with reviewing the project to the developer, and urged the mayor to clarify speculations about the bidding process.

Hau said he had provided a list of recommended committee members, but that it was not finalized. As a former adviser who is not on the city’s administrative team, Chung had no access to the list, Hau added.

New Party Taipei City Councilor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), who had warned Hau about the credibility of the developer in a private meeting, said that she believed there was an “inside man” in the Taipei City Government because her private conversations with Hau had been leaked to the developer and to the media.

“An inside man leaked the content of our private conversations to the developer and the media. It should not be too difficult to find the mole on the city government’s staff,” she told the mayor.

Hau said he had told the commissioner of the Department of Government Ethics about Huang’s warnings, without revealing her identity, and promised to uncover the identity of the source of the leak.