Sun, Apr 16, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Ko denies deal with Eric Chu to win public funds

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, center, right, yesterday participates in an international carnival in front of Taipei City Hall organized by a Taipei Universiade support group.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), yesterday rejected a New Taipei City Government press release asserting that he had reached a consensus with New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) on “working together” to attract funds earmarked for the central government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Construction Project.

The New Taipei City Government yesterday issued a press release saying the two municipalities had arrived at an agreement to jointly request financing for three New Taipei City-led Mass Rapid Transit System (MRT) metropolitan railway construction projects following a meeting on Friday between New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Yeh Hui-ching (葉惠青) and Taipei Deputy Mayor Teng Chia-chi (鄧家基).

The MRT construction projects for which the two municipalities have agreed to submit joint budget requests are a line from New Taipei City’s Shijhih District (汐止) to Taipei’s Minsheng District (民生), stage two construction of the Wanda line and a circular line, New Taipei City said.

The municipalities also agreed to ask for funds to upgrade New Taipei City’s Bali Wastewater Treatment Plant and to build a water pipeline from the Beishih River (北勢溪) to the Jhihtan Water Purification Plant to prevent murky water emerging from taps in Taipei and New Taipei City during typhoons, the New Taipei City press release said.

“I find it strange that they issued this press release. What consensus?” Ko, on the sidelines of an event to promote the Summer Universiade, said in response to media queries for comment on New Taipei City’s statement.

Ko, an independent, is scheduled to attend a hearing at the legislature tomorrow to discuss draft bills for the project.

Ko said the purpose of his visit to the legislature is to explain the city’s needs for funds to build public infrastructure.

A source from the Taipei City Government said Ko was “displeased” after seeing the press release, as details regarding the two municipalities’ respective development plans needed further discussion and it is implausible that an agreement would be announced so soon.

Ko felt that Taipei had been “taken advantage of,” the source said.

Chu later responded to Ko’s remarks, saying that the issues discussed by Yeh and Teng are important to the 7 million residents of Taipei and New Taipei City, and the use of the word “consensus” did not matter if the two municipalities can work together on those goals.

Asked if he felt that Ko had “taken an indirect dig” at him, Chu said: “Mayor Ko can say whatever he wants as long as it makes him happy.”

Chu, who had not planned to attend tomorrow’s hearing, seemed to change his mind and said that he too would visit the legislature to convey New Taipei City’s need for funds.

In other news, Ko on Friday evening held a closed-door meeting with Shanghai Municipal Taiwan Affairs Office Director Li Wenhui (李文輝).

Asked what they discussed, Ko said they talked about logistics for the Taipei-Shanghai Forum in June.

Asked to expand on his comment in an interview that “problems will arise” during the Universiade if Beijing does not release Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲), Ko said that since tensions across the Taiwan Strait are high and Taiwan and China have a low level of mutual trust, both sides should avoid provoking each other.

The Lee Ming-che issue could inflame tensions, which could spell trouble during sports competitions, as evidenced by an International Ice Hockey Federation match in Taipei last month that ended in a brawl between Taiwanese and Chinese players.

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