Thu, May 21, 2009 - Page 3 News List

[MA YING-JEOU'S FIRST YEAR] : City councilors take Ma to task over Maokong Gondola

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

On the first anniversary of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday held him responsible for the inactive Maokong Gondola system, and accused his former Taipei City administration of engaging in corrupt practices.

The Maokong Gondola system, which has been suspended from service since Oct. 1 last year after mudslides eroded the ground beneath a support pillar, was one of Ma’s major projects when he was mayor of Taipei.

In January, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) announced that the problematic support pillar, also known as Tower No.16, would be relocated. He also reported 11 city government officials and two contracting companies to the Control Yuan and the Taipei Prosecutors’ Office for investigation into possible dereliction of duty.

DPP Taipei City councilors Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) and Chou Wei-you (周威佑) yesterday accused Ma and his municipal team of colluding with contractors to change the route of the gondola line, and fabricate geological reports on all 25 towers to speed up the construction so the project could be completed and become a municipal achievement for Ma.

“The whole structure of the gondola system is problematic. All of the 25 towers were built on shaky ground, but the former Ma administration allowed contractors to cut corners,” Hsu said during a press conference at the Taipei City Council.

Chou said that Tower No. 15 and almost all the other towers were built on unstable ground where the topsoil was fragile, and they could be damaged like Tower No. 16 in the event of heavy rains or a typhoon.

Hsu said Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien failed to launch an investigation into the possible corruption and administrative flaws of the involved officials and contractors.

In its latest issue yesterday, the Chinese-language weekly Next Magazine made the same accusations against Ma and members of his municipal administration who handled the construction, including former director of the Public Works Office Lee Shu-chuan (李四川).

In response, Hau yesterday said no city government officials were involved in corruption or embezzlement in the construction of the project, and last night the city government said they would file a lawsuit against the magazine for its false report.

Hau said the city government evaluated the 25 towers every week to ensure the safety and stability of each tower. The city government will seek to resume the service next year.

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