Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is “dancing the tango” with Taipei Dome contractor Farglory Group (遠雄集團) by making the decision to transfer safety reviews regarding the Dome to the Construction and Planning Agency’s Taiwan Architecture and Building Center, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) said.
Ko on Friday said he would grant Farglory chairman Chao Teng-hsiung’s (趙藤雄) request to have the center perform all seven reviews regarding the Dome’s safety standards.
Ko’s decision came after Chao on Wednesday said in a radio interview and a TV talk show that Farglory would comply with the standards as long as the Taipei City Government relegates four reviews concerning the Dome’s readiness for disasters and contingencies to the center.
Wang said this shows Ko and Chao likely reached an agreement to resume construction of the Dome.
He said the talks between the city and Farglory over the past several days was a “perfect scam” aimed at deceiving Taipei residents.
“If problems can be so easily resolved, what has Ko been doing for more than a year?” Wang asked.
“The city government’s handling of the Dome project so far shows that Ko is attempting to ‘go easy’ on Farglory as long as he can look good doing it,” he said.
By accepting the seven standards, Farglory is helping Ko save face while boosting its chances to resume construction, as transferring the reviews to the center would not hurt Farglory, Wang said, adding that the city’s proposal to change the authority on the safety reviews is suspicious considering that many lobbyists have reportedly been mediating between the city and Farglory over the Dome.
Wang said that if Ko meets with Chao this month as Chao suggested, resuming construction would be a “done deal.”
Meanwhile, Songshan Tobacco Factory Tree Protection Union convener Arthur Yo (游藝) said Ko’s adviser Chang Yisan (張益贍) has been lobbying for potential third parties to take over the Dome project.
Chang has been trying to reach a deal with CTBC Financial Holding Co (中信金控) to take over the Dome since the early days of Ko’s term, Yo said.
Chang’s dealings with CTBC could mean that the tone for resuming construction could have been set by the city’s top management long ago.
He said he does not trust the Taiwan Architecture and Building Center, as he believed the agency had inappropriately expedited a fire safety and evacuation review in 2011 and helped Farglory secure the initial construction license for the Dome.
The review was passed and approved by the Ministry of the Interior in three days even though resolutions made during a committee meeting held by the center said that Farglory must make revisions to the complex’s evacuation plans and deliver a revision for a follow-up review.
Yo said that transferring safety reviews to the center would likely help tip the Dome project in Farglory’s favor.
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