Thu, Aug 23, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ko regrets spats, but says Farglory must obey rules

SAFETY A CONCERN:DPP councillors have not been able to access the Taipei Dome site since Monday, after a fire was reported there on Sunday

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je talks to reporters before a public safety meeting at Taipei City Hall yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he regrets having spent so much time verbally sparring with Taipei Dome contractor Farglory Group (遠雄集團), but his stance that the contractor must resubmit its plans and undergo standard review procedures remains unchanged.

Ko made the remark on his biweekly lunch box talk, a live broadcast on his Facebook and Instagram accounts, during which he invites different Taipei City Government department heads for a half-hour discussion about their duties and plans for the city.

Taipei Department of Legal Affairs Commissioner Yuan Hsiu-hui (袁秀慧) joined Ko for yesterday’s broadcast to talk about the controversial Taipei Dome project.

When the Taipei Construction Management Office inspected the site in May 2015, it found 79 deviations from the approved blueprint — a high number — so operations had to be suspended, she said.

The Control Yuan and the court have rendered verdicts saying that the city government’s decision was legal, Yuan said.

Ko said the project is complicated, reminding him of when, as a surgeon at National Taiwan University Hospital, he had to treat a patient severely injured in a car accident and thought to himself “even a deity would not be able to save this person.”

So many problematic decisions were made even before he became mayor, such as the project’s location, he said, adding that whether the area could accommodate tens of thousands of people and their vehicles was still an issue.

The reason the city government spent NT$14 billion to buy the land, but agreed to waive Farglory’s royalty fees remains perplexing, Ko added.

However, deviating from the original construction plans was a breach of contract, so the project had to be halted, he said, adding that some of the deviations were serious problems, such as the disappearance of the fire escape staircases.

Ko said he only regretted having argued with Farglory over the suspension, instead of simply telling them with a smile to resubmit a revised blueprint for review, which would have avoided a lot of headaches.

Farglory should still just resubmit a set of revised plans for an urban design review, Ko said, adding that he would not make things difficult for Farglory, but that he would not just let them slide through either.

The contractor would need to pass the review in an open and transparent way — possibly even over a live broadcast so that the public could be persuaded.

Separately, after a fire and smoke was reported at the Taipei Dome site on Sunday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei city councilors had planned to investigate the site on Monday, but Farglory refused, saying that the proposed visit did not give it enough time to set up safety measures.

The DPP councilors said they informed the contractor that they would investigate the site with city government officials yesterday, but they were not allowed through the gate.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hong-wei (王鴻薇) were allowed to visit in April, so the DPP councilors should also be allowed there, DPP Taipei City Councilor Liu Yao-ren (劉耀仁) said.

City government officials seemed to have no control over Farglory, DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) said, adding that the DPP Taipei City Council caucus would consider having a different councilor call for an investigation of the site each day until they are allowed to visit it.

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