Wed, Sep 23, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Flag-raising ceremony to invite scrutiny: Ko

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he would rather not attend the Double Ten National Day flag-raising ceremony in front of the Presidential Office Building to avoid public scrutiny and speculation arising from the unavoidable exchange of pleasantries between him and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), as well as the presidential candidates.

“If I attend the national day ceremony, the first thing people will be talking about is whether I shook hands with Ma,” Ko said, alluding to Ma’s handshake, which has been jokingly dubbed by netizens as a “death-grip.”

Netizens have described shaking hands with Ma as bringing bad luck, citing a number of famous athletes who lost crucial games following a handshake with the president.

“Then they will discuss whether I smiled more to [Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate] Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) or [Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate] Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱),” Ko said on the sidelines of an event to promote biodiversity and green spaces within the city. “It really bothers me. I might as well hold my own ceremony at Taipei City Hall.”

Taipei Department of Civil Affairs Commissioner Lan Shih-tsung (藍世聰) said the venue for the city’s national day flag-raising ceremony would also be used for a fair to welcome “new residents” — foreign spouses and their children — that the mayor is scheduled to attend, adding that the event would be held within budgetary constraints.

In other news, Ko yesterday brushed aside criticism that the city had been wasteful — reportedly spending more than NT$228 million (US$6.9 million) — to move some if its offices, saying the relocation plan was proposed in June after the Xinyi District Administration Center, which houses some offices of the city’s Department of Health and Department of Social Affairs, was determined to be a sea-sand building.

The relocation is to also involve some Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Education employees stationed outside city hall, with a total of 256 employees at the four agencies scheduled to be moved back to the Taipei City Government building.

To accommodate the increased staff, Ko said he asked four of his close aides to move into a reception area in his office to allow for more efficient space utilization.

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