Tue, Jul 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma under fire over cable car project

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lin Tzu-ling, left, secretary-general of the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, an environmental conservation organization, weeps in frustration yesterday as she recounts how she received death threats after exposing corruption behind the cable car system project in Taipei's Beitou district.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

An environmental protection advocacy group yesterday called Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administrative team "shameless and incompetent" for the way they dealt with the controversies surrounding the construction of the cable car system in Beitou, a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project.

Lin Tzu-ling (林子凌), secretary general of the Wild At Heart Legal Defense Association, said that the city government took over the project in 1998 and used its own Environmental Protection Bureau to exempt the project from an environmental impact assessment, rather than seeking guidance from the Executive Yuan's Environmental Protection Administration.

Lin said that the city government then turned the BOT project proposal over to the Yangmingshan National Park Administration two years ago, which in turn was responsible for submitting the plan to the Ministry of Interior for its approval. Lin said that the city government altered the functions of certain facilities before submitting the proposal, however.

"How can Ma hope to convince anyone that the city government did not know what the content of the contract was when they were the ones who signed it?" Lin asked.

Lin called on the city government to halt the construction project and conduct an environmental impact assessment.

Ma responded by saying that the construction project did not require an environmental impact assessment report because the land used did not exceed 10 hectares. The city was happy to follow the procedures, Ma said, and was not involved in the scandal surrounding the contractors.

Officials from the Taipei City Government held a press conference to respond to the environmental group's charges.

Chen Yung-ren (陳永仁), who is the chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau, said that the alteration of the functions of certain facilities were in compliance with the Ministry of the Interior's new regulations.

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