Taipei City councilors across party lines yesterday slammed Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), saying he makes frequent trips abroad despite ongoing disputes over the Taipei Dome project and tri-city high school entrance exam policy, as they urged the mayor to focus his priorities on the city’s development.
Hau returned from an eight-day trip to the Netherlands, Italy and Austria on Monday, where he attended a meeting for the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf and inspected public housing projects, while he visited Japan last month to seek business cooperation for municipal projects.
His frequent overseas trips drew criticism from Taipei City councilors on the first day of the new council session yesterday, with critics accusing the mayor of -ignoring municipal development and wasting taxpayers’ money on the trips.
“The trip to Europe cost NT$30 million [US$1 million], and you have four more foreign trips this year, while the city is suffering a deficit. It’s ridiculous,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) said at Taipei City Council.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) joined Wang in challenging the effectiveness of the mayor’s trips abroad, saying he has failed in city-to-city diplomacy efforts by signing sister-city agreements with only two cities despite frequent trips abroad since becoming mayor in 2006.
After Hau began his second term on Dec. 25 last year, he visited Hong Kong and Singapore in February to inspect public housing projects and embarked on a 13-day visit in March to the US, Nicaragua and Panama on a city diplomacy tour. He visited Shanghai in July to attend a city forum before visiting Japan later that month and Europe last month.
In protesting Hau’s trips, Wang presented a globe to the mayor before he prepared to make a -report on municipal projects to the council.
Hau’s report to the council also attracted criticism from the councilors, who threatened to boycott the report, saying Hau’s administration failed to explain problematic policies such as the tri-city high school entrance exam policy.
The exam policy, which was canceled by the Ministry of Education last month because of its problematic scoring thresholds, drew complaints from parents and students after the city held the first exam under that policy in May.
“The cancelation of the major education policy affected thousands of students, but the -issue only accounted for two pages in the report. Maybe Mayor Hau and the municipal team should rewrite the report and present it to the city council when they are ready,” People First Party Taipei City Councilor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said.
Hau, faced with an hour-long boycott on the council floor, -defended his efforts to promote city diplomacy on his foreign trips, and apologized again for the flawed education policy.
“I have already offered an apology to students and parents over the exam policy. We will continue to communicate with parents at public hearings and ensure the rights of all students,” he said.