Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday condemned the Taipei City Department of Civil Affairs for trashing the main lantern of this year’s Taipei Lantern Festival following the end of the event, and urged the department to draw up recycling plans for display lanterns.
The main lantern of this year’s Taipei Lantern Festival in January, a 16m ox wearing a taekwondo outfit named Mou Mou (哞哞), cost the city government more than NT$80 million (US$2.3 million) to build, and was in storage at the manufacturer’s warehouse in Changhua County after the department failed to find any companies willing to buy the lantern.
“It’s obvious that the city government has no intention of recycling the lanterns or trying to find alternative uses for them. It is unacceptable that such an expensive lantern is treated as trash,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) said yesterday at the Taipei City Council.
DPP Councilor Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) said the department increased the budget for the main lantern this year and planned to break the lantern down to sell the different parts, such as steel wire, to hardware stores.
“Mou Mou was only on display for about 10 days and will be cut into pieces by the department soon. What a waste of NT$80 million,” she said.
The city government said the main lantern for the lantern festival last year cost NT$5.3 million. The lantern, a mouse made out of recycled materials, is now on display at a municipal elementary school as a public piece of art.
Most of other main lanterns created for past lantern festivals were either burned or sent back to the manufacturer, the department said.
Lee and Chien urged the department to draw up plans to either recycle or reuse the million-dollar main lanterns after each festival, and to make the lanterns with recycled materials.
Department Commissioner Huang Lu Ching-ru (黃呂錦茹) acknowledged the difficulty in finding enterprises to buy this year’s main lantern, and promised to implement new measures to prevent lanterns from being abandoned as trash.