Tue, Nov 05, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Duck woes vex Taoyuan County

By Lee Jung-ping and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The third mishap in four days to Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck — when an air leak caused it to deflate into a crumpled heap on Sunday night, leaving it out of commission yesterday — was the latest debacle for the Taoyuan County Government.

The Greater Kaohsiung Government had come to the rescue lending its replica of the giant duck, after Taoyuan’s duck deflated on Thursday last week at a pond in Sinwu Township (新屋) when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake centered in Hualien County knocked out the power to the three air pumps keeping it inflated.

However, a fresh leak on Sunday night crumpled the duck within 40 minutes. County workers and officials on the watch were caught by surprise by the sudden collapse and conducted an inspection of the duck yesterday.

“We believe it was due to the strong northeasterly wind over the weekend. The vibrations caused by the wind loosened wiring to the air pumps and so the duck deflated,” an official from Taoyuan’s Cultural Affairs Bureau said.

A county government representative said workers would try to reinflate the duck when the northeasterly wind levels dropped, which could be this afternoon or tomorrow morning, based on Central Weather Bureau forecasts.

Netizens were quick to ridicule the duck debacle yesterday.

Ever since the duck went on display on Oct. 26, some critics said the pond and the viewing area were too cramped and organizers failed to into account the cold weather and frequent northeasterly winds at this time of year.

Some people complained about the power lines obstructing the view of the duck, but even more complained when authorities had workers remove the power lines temporarily.

The owner of a nearby fish pond said noise from the machines keeping the duck afloat and the visiting crowds had caused a mass kill-off of fish.

“If something relatively simple as operating an inflatable duck can lead to disasters, how can we hope this government will be able to manage the NT$463 billion [US$15.8 billion] Taoyuan Aerotropolis construction project,” a netizen surnamed Peng (彭) wrote.

Others said taxpayers’ money had been spent creating negative publicity and panned the county government for what they said was its shoddy and unprofessional handling of the Rubber Duck.

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