Mon, Jan 17, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Council speaker livid over vacancy remark

ILL INTENTIONS The Taipei City Council speaker accused the health commissioner of lying about a bed vacancy for the injured girl in order to ruin Mayor Ma's reputation

STAFF WRITER

Taipei City Council Speaker Wu Bi-chu (吳碧珠), a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), yesterday accused the city's leading health official of lying about whether Taipei Municipal Jen Ai Hospital actually had a bed vacancy for the comatose girl -- a scandal that has put Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) reputation in serious jeopardy.

Chang said in a municipal meeting last Friday night that Jen Ai Hospital actually had a vacancy for the four-year old girl, who remains in critical condition.

"I am not blind nor deaf. How could [the health commissioner] collaborate with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councilors and come up with such a story before speaking with the mayor?" Wu asked yesterday.

Wu was referring to the remarks made by Chang Hang (張珩), commissioner of city's Department of Health, about the availability of hospital beds on the night in question. Wu alleged the comment was a plot to damage Ma's reputation.

According to Wu, Taipei Deputy Mayor Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) told her that Ma had not known that Chang would make such remarks in advance.

Wu said that she had immediately urged the cancellation of the meeting after hearing Chang say there were beds available. Wu also criticized Chang for being a "black sheep" and accused the health commissioner of quietly inventing the story with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) city councilors.

According to Wu, at 10pm last Friday night, DPP legislators Shu Chia-Chin (徐佳青) and Li Wen-Ying (李文英) presented information from the intensive care unit of Jen Ai Hospital's emergency room.

Wu said many KMT councilors reportedly suspected that all the information from the DPP councilors actually came from Chang.

According to the preliminary investigation by the Taipei City Government regarding the incident, all beds at Jen Ai were occupied when the girl arrived. However, after a seven-hour meeting with 11 employees of the municipal hospital, Chang said he might have wrongly accused the hospital of lying.

Meanwhile, the disputed case, along with the recent accident at an MRT station have done harm to Ma's image. According to several surveys after the incidents, Ma's popularity has hit a record low.

In other developments, according to a press report yesterday, some pan-blue camp members suggested that People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) should be the next KMT chairman after Lien Chan (連戰) steps down in August, although Ma is considered to be a leading candidate for the position.

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