Sat, Jul 18, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma, Hau tensions in the spotlight

STILL SPEAKING After rumors of discord, a spokesman said that the Taipei City Government’s communications with the Presidential Office have been cordial

By Mo Yan-Chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office yesterday called on Taipei City Government to clarify recent accusations leveled at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over the problem-plagued Mass Rapid Transit System’s Neihu Line.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) also dismissed a Chinese-language China Times Weekly story that there had been ill-feeling between Ma and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) because of the suspended Maokong Gondola system and problematic Neihu Line, but added that the city government should explain the matters to the public to clarify unnecessary concerns.

“The Neihu Line has encountered some problems and we expect the city government to offer clear explanations and answer public concerns, especially when some opposition city councilors have made groundless accusations,” Wang said at the Presidential Office.

The Neihu Line is an extension of the Muzha Line starting from Zhongshan Junior High School Station. The Taipei City Government decided to adopt a medium capacity system for the Neihu Line using a different system builder during Ma’s tenure as Taipei mayor.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and some critics have said Ma made several bad decisions when commissioning the line, including making it only medium capacity and switching contractors from French company Matra to Bombardier Inc. Matra was responsible for the Muzha Line which connects to the Neihu Line.

The story in the weekly said the Ma administration was not satisfied with the Hau administration because it had failed to defend Ma’s municipal policies when problems cropped up with the gondola system and the Neihu Line, two of Ma’s major projects as former mayor.

Wang said he talked to Taipei City Government Spokesman Yang Hsiao-tung (羊曉東) on Thursday and expressed the Presidential Office’s hope that the city government would explain that those decisions were made to facilitate the construction of the line.

Wang said the Executive Yuan had decided on a medium capacity system for the Neihu Line in 1993 when it approved the construction and Ma was implementing the Executive Yuan’s decision.

The Presidential Office had no problem with the Hau administration, Wang said.

He said Yang told him that the city government had held more than 10 press conferences to answer media inquiries about the Neihu Line, but local media outlets did not carry their responses in the stories.

“We believe that the city government is trying very hard to answer questions about the line but we are just curious about the city government’s relations with the press,” he said.

Yang said yesterday that the city government’s communications with the Presidential Office have been cordial, urging the public not to politicize the issue.

“We are trying hard to continue municipal developments, and it is the city government’s responsibility if municipal projects fail to meet the public’s expectations,” Yang said.

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