The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday stepped up its criticism of Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) for resting at home on the afternoon when Typhoon Fanapi flooded the city on Sept. 19, seeking to capitalize on the opportunity to boost support for its Kaohsiung mayoral candidate in the November election.
Speaking at the weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, which was held in Kaohsiung yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), said the public’s needs should be the top priority of the heads of local governments, as well as making the city safer, wealthier and more beautiful. He lauded the KMT’s Greater -Kaohsiung City mayoral candidate Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), saying she would be able to accomplish such tasks.
“We must win the battle in Kaohsiung this time. Typhoon Fanapi caused serious damage in -Kaohsiung and a head of local government must have the ability to take care of local residents,” he said.
Huang presented a report on how the drainage system in the city could be improved to prevent flooding in the future, while holding the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) responsible for the flooding because of its approval of land development projects.
Kaohsiung City was one of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon, with more than 1,700 households and 600 vehicles in four of its 11 districts inundated.
Chen, who has been enjoying great popularity in the city, faces a political crisis after admitting on Tuesday that she spent some time resting at home that afternoon, -reversing previous claims by her city administration that she had been out on an inspection.
KMT Secretary-General King -P-u-tsung (金溥聰) said the -Kaohsiung City Government should pinpoint the administrative responsibility after the failure of Chen and other top officials in their failure to handle the situation on the typhoon day.
“Before discussing her political responsibility, I think Chen Chu should focus on the administrative responsibilities of her and her staff,” he said.
When asked to comment on Kaohsiung’s election, King said the KMT was working hard to boost Huang’s support rate and the election outcome would not be affected unless Huang gained more support than Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), who withdrew from the DPP to run as an independent.
Chen still topped recent polls, while Huang’s support rate, although climbing, remained the lowest among the three candidates, he said.
On Tuesday, Ma was quoted by KMT spokesperson Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) as saying during a closed-door meeting that it was “beyond comprehension” that any in government ignored the flood prevention and drainage project and that some had even shirked the responsibility.
Ma said the flooding in -Kaohsiung City would not have been this serious had the city helped families build more flood prevention gates in their homes.
Ma said he learned many lessons when he was Taipei mayor as the capital city was flooded several times on his watch. Many car owners suffered great losses when the basement of their apartment building where they parked their cars was flooded, he said.
Ma said the central government has offered funding to families wishing to build flood prevention gates for their homes since August last year when Typhoon Morakot wreacked havoc in southern and eastern Taiwan. Of the NT$1.5 billion (US$47.7 million), Ma said Pingtung and Kaohsiung counties spent NT$30 million, but -Kaohsiung City spent only NT$10 million out of NT$97 million. The three counties and cities were hit hard by Typhoon Fanapi.