Pointing out that the company in charge of marketing for the Taipei International Flora Expo is a subsidiary of United Daily News Group — which is considered to be pro-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — opposition lawmakers yesterday questioned whether there were irregularities behind the company’s winning of several Taipei and Taichung city government contracts.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said Min Sheng Cultural and Communication Co, which sparked controversies by supplying “made-in-China” souvenirs for the expo, is a member of the United Daily News Group, with all members on the board of directors and on the board of supervisors appointed by the newspaper.
In fact, the firm is not only in charge of marketing Taipei International Flora Expo merchandise, but is also the winning bidder of the also-controversial Taichung International Flower Carpet Festival, and several other Taipei City Government-sponsored events, Chen said.
Chen added that United Daily News Group is in charge of the selling Taipei International Flora Expo tickets and the promotion of the event, while Linking Books, another subsidiary of the United Daily News Group, is in charge of making an official record of the expo.
Saying that she does not believe United Daily News Group is so much better than its competitors, Chen questioned whether it was because of the group’s close relations with the KMT that companies in the group have won bids for events organized by KMT-controlled local governments.
She urged the government to explain why KMT-controlled local governments receive so much financial support from the central government so the can host large events, while many local governments in central and southern Taiwan are suffering financial hardship.
DPP Caucus Secretary-General Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) added that it seems the “era of favoritism” has returned, because pro-KMT United Daily News Group and Join Engineering Consultants are winning most bids for government-sponsored events.
Asked for comment, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said that as long as the process is legal and legitimate, “everyone has the right to bid for government projects.”
“Which company wins the bid is not the point, the point is whether the process is in accordance with the law,” Lo said.
“Many companies and individuals with close ties to the DPP were more likely to win government bids when the DPP government was in power as well,” Lo added.
Taipei International Flora Expo spokeswoman Ma Chien-hui (馬千惠), meanwhile, denied there were any illegalities.
“We invited bids openly, and the process was transparent and fair,” she told the Taipei Times via telephone.