The Kaohsiung City Government yesterday said in a statement that Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is not a political pundit and that his ridicule of other local governments would not make them work any better.
The statement was in response to a remark Ko made on Sunday in a speech at Ku Ting Christ Presbyterian Church.
“I do not think handling politics is that difficult. Just do the right things and do not do the wrong things,” he said.
“I cannot help mentioning the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program again,” Ko said. “If you are doing something wrong, it is going to fail no matter how hard you work at it; it does not matter how much money or effort you throw at it.”
Ko said he told Premier Lin Chuan (林全) that Taipei would not need any funds from the program because it has enough money.
The Kaohsiung City Government’s debt has increased by about NT$120 billion to NT$240 billion (US$3.92 billion to US$7.85 billion) over the past 10 years, while the New Taipei City Government’s debt has increased by about NT$55 billion over the past six years, Ko said.
“However, the Taipei City Government cleared NT$54.9 billion of debt in the past two years,” Ko said. “We are paying off our debt while all other cities and counties are raising their debts, leaving them to future generations.”
“A mayor is not a political pundit and ridicule will not achieve a better municipal performance. Doing administrative work is the mayor’s job,” Kaohsiung’s statement said. “We hope Mayor Ko can act properly as a mayor and will seek to improve the nation as a whole, together with other cities and counties.”
It said the infrastructure development program is not only crucial to improving the nation’s infrastructure, but also to close the development gap between northern and southern Taiwan, as well as urban and rural areas.
“Taipei built 15 Mass Rapid Transit lines with support and funding from the central government, and now other cities are finally getting a chance to make similar improvements [through the program] and catch up with the capital, so the mayor of the capital should lead Taiwan in making improvements, not force other cities and counties to limit their improvements,” the statement said.
“We hope Mayor Ko can take off the mask of the Tian Long Guo [天龍國, “Kingdom of the Celestial Dragons,” a derogatory term to describe Taipei residents’ supposed sense of superiority] and breathe and think like other Taiwanese,” it said.
The Kaohsiung Finance Bureau said the city’s financial challenges came from past injustices.
It said the administration of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not take any difference of fiscal capacities into consideration and allocated the capital a NT$41.28 billion annual subsidy to cover overdue payments of labor insurance and national health insurance.
However, it only gave NT$6.13 billion to Kaohsiung, it said, adding that Kaohsiung has cleared NT$46.8 billion of debt accumulated from overdue labor and national health insurance payments since 2007.
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