Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday faced tough questions at the Taipei City Council after one of his top aides was found to have attended a meeting with borough wardens — which Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also attended — prior to another event where the borough wardens expressed solidarity with Tsai in her election campaign.
Prior to his policy address, Ko was questioned by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) city councilors over Taipei Department of Civil Affairs Commissioner Lan Shih-tsung’s (藍世聰) attendance of a closed-door meeting of the city’s borough wardens with Tsai. The councilors accused Lan of having violated the principle of neutrality by appearing at an event with a presidential candidate.
KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hsin-yi (王欣儀) said that Lan was not only seated close to Tsai at the meeting, but also gave a speech.
Ko has said that appearing at events organized by presidential or legislative candidates in next year’s Jan. 16 elections would be a form of “unconventional endorsement,” KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Chih-ping (汪志冰) said, adding that Ko had made a list of things to avoid in an attempt to remain neutral.
However, Lan’s appearance at the meeting on Thursday has made Ko appear “hypocritical,” Wang said.
When asked by KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hong-wei (王鴻薇) whether he deemed appropriate Lan’s attendance of the meeting, Ko did not give a direct response, only saying: “As the elections approach, I expected this day to arrive. We will lay down a set of rules to be observed by officials in the run-up to the elections.”
Meanwhile, Lan said that the meeting was to discuss a draft bylaw that would more clearly define borough wardens’ responsibilities and purview, and that he was simply “doing his job” in attending it.
As passage of the proposed bylaw would require an amendment to a national law governing the purview of borough wardens, the group invited Tsai to attend and asked her to solicit the assistance of DPP lawmakers to push through the legislation, Lan told the Taipei Times.
He said the meeting and campaign event were held at different venues, and that he had only attended the closed-door meeting to discuss the bylaw.
“After I arrived at the meeting, I learned of the other event, where borough wardens planned to express their support of Tsai, so I avoided it,” Lan said.
“It [the meeting] was totally unrelated to the elections. If it had been a campaign event, it would have been a public event,” he said.
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