Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) administration has drawn criticism over what many perceive as the squandering of taxpayers’ money on “unnecessary” overseas inspection tours, after the mayor unveiled the itinerary of his 13-day visit to China and Russia next month.
Hau’s delegation is scheduled to leave for China on July 2 to attend the fourth Taipei-Shanghai City Forum on July 3, before heading to Russia to attend the opening ceremony of this year’s Summer Universiade in Kazan on July 6 as the head of the 2017 Summer Universiade’s host city.
Hau is then to visit Moscow from July 10 to July 13 to facilitate exchanges between the two cities, and is due to return to Taiwan on July 14.
“Taipei Deputy Mayor Timothy Ting (丁庭宇) made an overseas trip in March that was similar to Hau’s 13-day tour, while the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission also recently sent a delegation to Shanghai under the auspices of an inspection tour for the city-to-city forum,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shi-chien (王世堅) said at a council meeting on Friday.
Wang said that with the typhoon season approaching, Hau’s tour could leave the city leaderless in the event of a typhoon-caused disaster, adding that the increasing frequency of Hau’s overseas visits had become akin to “an addiction.”
The Hau administration’s frequent inspection tours have long been the subject of public criticism, with the mayor having taken 23 overseas trips under the pretext of business-related visits since he assumed office in 2006, costing the government more than NT$30 million (US$1 million), Wang said.
“If Hau really has such wanderlust, he should take a leave of absence for a family trip abroad, rather than traveling around the world using taxpayers’ money,” Wang said, accusing Hau of being a “worm” in the mayor’s office, while acting as a “dragon” during overseas visits.
Citing a Chinese proverb which says that “a crooked stick will have a crooked shadow,” Wang said Hau had set a bad example for his administration, as evidenced by the 10 overseas visits Ting had made since he took office in August 2011.
Hau said the deputy mayor had to regularly attend meetings overseas because he was in charge of planning the 2017 Summer Universiade.
“Overseas visits are not a waste of taxpayers’ money because government officials returning from such tours compile reports detailing their feedback and suggestions,” Hau said, adding that the Taipei-Shanghai City Forum contributed to the opening of direct flights between the two cities in 2010.