Fri, Apr 10, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Beitou resort linked to Apache debacle in hot water

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Two add-on pavilions at Villa 32, a hot spring resort in Taipei’s Beitou District, were declared illegal structures yesterday by the Taipei City Government Construction Management Office. The wife of Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng, implicated in the Apache helicopter scandal, sits on the board of directors of Villa 32.

Photo: CNA

Fallout from the Apache helicopter security lapse continued to reverberate yesterday, as Taipei found that a resort associated with the wife of 601st Air Cavalry Brigade Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng (勞乃成) engaged in illegal construction and what the capital labeled the theft of hot spring water.

Lao led a group of relatives and friends on a tour of a restricted military base in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭) on March 29.

A public firestorm erupted over the security lapse and the perceived abuse of privilege after television personality Janet Lee (李蒨蓉) uploaded photographs of the tour to Facebook.

The Taipei City Government Construction Management Office yesterday confirmed that Villa 32 (三 二行館), a hot spring resort in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) made extensive illegal constructions, building a pavilion and adding a third floor of rooms without applying for a permit.

Lao’s wife, Chiu Ya-ching (邱雅靖), serves on the resort’s board of directors.

Yang Ching-cheng (楊景程) — head of the office’s inspection and reporting team — said that more than half of the illegal construction was reported to the office in 2005, shortly after the resort opened.

However, due to the influence of a city councilor, the office had been unable to force immediate demolition, he said.

He did not name the city councilor.

The office’s inspection yesterday discovered that the resort had since added more construction without applying for a permit, he said.

“It is easy for me to determine what is illegal construction, but it is very difficult to know who pulled strings,” Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said, adding that raking over past allegations of councilor interference was not worthwhile.

Ko has promised to publicize the name of any city councilor who tries to interfere with his campaign against illegal constructions.

He added that the city would demolish the illegal addons in Beitou if the resort failed to take care of it before an April 28 deadline.

Meanwhile, the capital’s Department of Economic Development said the resort dug an illegal well to siphon off water from a hot spring.

Department division head Chang Tsung-ching (章宗慶) said that because hot spring water is considered a public resource, resorts are required to purchase any that they use from the Taipei Water Department.

In addition to being fined and required to seal the well, the resort would also be subject to a criminal lawsuit for water theft, he added.

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