Taipei government misbehaving over ceremony: councilor

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 3

A Taipei City councilor yesterday accused the Taipei City Government of misappropriating administrative resources to mobilize residents to attend the city's flag-raising ceremony this morning in front of Taipei City Hall.

The city government's demand that local borough directors each mobilize at least 10 residents to attend the ceremony is intended to steal thunder from the central government's Double Ten Day celebrations and create a campaign opportunity for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) -- who will attend the city's event and a Taipei County celebration -- Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) said.

"At such a sensitive time before elections, the city government's move clearly violates its administrative neutrality," Hung told a press conference yesterday at Taipei City Council.

Hung later made a call to a borough director, who confirmed that Taipei City's Department of Civil Affairs had asked him to bring residents to the ceremony and promised to provide free rides and drinks for everyone who attends.

"I don't think the city government should force people to attend the ceremony. People should have the freedom to choose which event they want to attend," Lee Chuan-ming (李權民), a borough director in Xinyi District, said on the phone.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) separately denied the city was using inappropriate methods to mobilize residents to attend its celebration, saying that it was only inviting them and that this was "perfectly normal."

"I believe that the central government did the same thing for its flag-raising ceremony. Besides, it's easy for any borough to invite 10 residents to the event. We don't have to force them," he said when approached for comment.

Hau also criticized the central government, which he said was inappropriately using the National Day to promote its UN referendum proposal.

"The Taipei City event celebrates the birth of the Republic of China. We welcome not only Taipei residents but everyone to join us and express love for the nation," Hau said.