Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Committee member says unit delaying

BUREAUCRACY:The Taipei Department of Government Ethics said it was not its responsibility to release documents on dubious city development projects

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taipei City Government’s Department of Government Ethics is holding up an investigation into controversial city development projects by refusing to release related documentation, Clean Government Committee member Hsu Chin-huang (徐嶔煌) said yesterday.

“The department has been indolent, refusing to speed up the scanning and uploading of documents,” Hsu said on Facebook.

The committee has been charged by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) with investigating controversial city development projects outsourced to firms under previous municipal administrations, with Hsu sitting on the sub-committee charged with investigating the MeHAS City (美河市) development project.

“As we’ve gone through many of the documents, we’ve discovered that their secrecy level is quite low,” Hsu said later yesterday. “The more people who read them, the more problems we’ll be able to uncover and the clearer the situation will be.”

He added that opening all documents up for inspection by the public would also be fairer than the current system, in which bits and pieces of information are leaked periodically to certain media outlets.

While the department has helped committee members gain access to documents, it has dragged its feet about making the information available to the general public, citing “technical difficulties,” Hsu said. He said he found it “difficult to understand” exactly where the department’s “technical difficulties” might be, as many of the files are already in pdf format and even college students could scan more documents.

“As the Department of Rapid Transit Systems is responsible [for the MeHAS City project], they make the judgement about whether or not to declassify and publicize documents,” Taipei Department of Government Ethics Commissioner Liu Ming-wu (劉明武) said. “They have yet to make a decision about which material will be completely publicized.”

He added that it was “impractical” to upload all of the 20 boxes of related documentation, because his department lacks the necessary budget and personnel.

“If we scanned and uploaded all the documents related to MeHAS City, our Web site wouldn’t be able to handle the load — it would crash,” he said.

According to Ko, the city was still in the process of determining the extent of committee members’ authority to view city documents.

“Establishing a system requires time and we’re still holding discussions,” the mayor said yesterday. “We’ll make an internal decision as to what kinds of materials committee members can request and the extent to which they can request them.”

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