Hau approves resignation of chief of transit systems

RESHUFFLE::Richard Chen’s resignation leaves Hau’s team short of three officials. His deputy has moved on to the Cabinet, while his transport chief has resigned

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - Page 3

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday approved the resignation of the head of the rapid transit systems department over a botched major city development project, and said personnel changes would be carried out in the near future.

Richard Chen (陳椿亮) resigned as commissioner of the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems “to shoulder responsibility” for a dispute that has embroiled the city government, Hau said.

The mayor was speaking of the failure of a consortium that won the bid for the NT$80 billion (US$2.7 billion) Taipei Twin Towers project in October last year to deposit the required performance bond of NT$1.89 billion by the deadline on Thursday last week.

Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) said that the mayor would decide who would succeed Chen as soon as possible.

“Currently, no names are available,” he said.

Asked if more officials will have to resign, or more personnel changes will be made within the city government, Chang declined to comment.

There are currently three empty seats in Hau’s administrative team.

Before Chen’s resignation, Hau had to let go his deputy, Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁), who was appointed Executive Yuan secretary-general during a Cabinet reshuffle before the Lunar New Year holiday. Chen Wei-zen assumed his new post last week.

Meanwhile, Lin Tse-ying (林志盈) resigned on Thursday as transportation commissioner, saying he had completed his tasks and wanted to leave. Hau has accepted his resignation.

Hau said he would undertake an internal evaluation in the near future.

“There will be some personnel changes ... a minor reshuffle,” he said.

The city government carried out credit checks on all the bidders for the Taipei Twin Towers, a development project near Taipei Railway Station that will link the city’s railway lines, metro system and bus terminals, and asked them to post a bid bond of NT$130 million. The winner was required to deposit a NT$1.89 billion guarantee.

It is not clear why the winning consortium of Taipei Gateway International Development Co Ltd, Malaysia-based IGB Corp Bhd and Mid Valley City Sdn Bhd failed to make the deposit, Hau said, but added that it might have been due to internal problems.

The consortium, which was awarded the contract in October, has lost the right to undertake the project and its deposit will be forfeited, the city government said.

The city government also announced that it would turn to the second-highest bidder, BES Engineering Corp, to negotiate a contract.

Richard Chen said he felt “at peace” after learning that his resignation has been accepted.

The Taipei Twin Towers development is expected to serve as the hub for a new MRT line that will connect Taipei to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

According to the city government, the two towers — one 243m high with 56 floors and the other 76 floors at 322m — will have 1.5 times the combined floor space of Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.

The latest glitch might cause a delay in the construction of the two towers, which are scheduled to be completed by 2017 and 2018.

The project was initiated by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in 2004 when he was Taipei mayor and had suffered four failed bids prior to last year.

It is expected to generate additional tax revenues of NT$1.1 billion for the city government and boost the domestic steel industry, creating purchase orders worth up to NT$58 billion, the Chinese-language United Evening News said.