Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) policy performance report in the Taipei City Council yesterday was boycotted by councilors from across party lines because of the scandal-plagued Taipei Twin Towers project. The councilors demanded an apology from Hau and a clearer explanation of the bidding procedures for the project.
The boycott lasted for more than an hour as city councilors questioned Hau over how one of the biggest construction projects in the city became embroiled in a bribery scandal. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors later occupied the podium and interrupted Hau’s report by shouting: “Mayor liar!” and “Step down, Mayor Hau!”
“Mayor Hau listed the project one of the 10 major construction projects of his term and praised the Taipei Gateway International Development Co as a dream team. Now the project has become a nightmare for the city. The mayor owes Taipei residents an apology,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) said.
Wang and DPP Taipei City Councilor Lin Shih-chung (林世宗) took out feng shui mirrors and asked Hau to use the mirrors to expose city officials who were involved in the scandal.
“There must be inside men in the city team, and we need to find out who they are. Mayor Hau must stop placing blind faith in city officials and reveal the identities of the inside men,” Wang said.
Independent City Councilor Chen Cheng-chung (陳政忠) and New Party Taipei City Councilor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) accused Department of Finance Commissioner Chiu Da-chan (邱大展) of covering up for the developer during the bidding process, and urged Hau to suspend him.
“Commissioner Chiu bragged about Taipei Gateway International Development Co’s strength to members of the city council’s transportation committee and solicited support from us. It’s hard to believe that he is innocent,” Chen said.
The city government’s cooperation with the developer collapsed in February and led to a probe into alleged bribery during the bidding process.
Prosecutors have listed Chiu as a defendant for his alleged involvement with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如), who has been detained because of her alleged deal with the developer to help it secure the bid in exchange for a NT$10 million (US$333,000) bribe. Prosecutors are investigating whether more city officials, city councilors or project review committee members were involved.
The Taipei Twin Towers project took up just seven paragraphs in Hau’s 200-page report to the council.
Hau defended the city’s initiative to provide prosecutors with information about the project and the bidding process and to assist with the investigation, but he apologized for the turmoil the scandal has caused.
“We will cooperate with the investigation and expect the prosecutors to uncover the truth,” he said.
Chiu maintained his innocence when asked by several councilors whether he was involved in the scandal and insisted that he will defend his reputation.
“[Being listed as a defendant] is a huge humiliation for me, and I will fight to prove my innocence,” he said, dismissing calls for him to resign.