The Taipei City Council task force charged with investigating the Taipei Twin Towers project held its first meeting yesterday amid concerns about the credibility of task force members who accepted political donations from the project’s second-priority bidder. It reached a consensus to complete the investigation by June.
The task force is comprised of cross-party Taipei City councilors and is to probe the project’s controversial bidding process, as well as any possible wrongdoing by city officials in relation to the project, amid allegations of bribery.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City councilors Lee Shin (李新), Angela Ying (應曉薇) and Wang Hsin-yi (王欣儀) withdrew from the task force for having accepted political donations from the second-priority bidder, BSE Engineering Co. However, KMT Taipei City Councilor Yang Shih-chiu (楊實秋) refused to leave the task force, drawing criticism from independent Taipei City Councilor Chen Cheng-chung (陳政忠) as he accused the KMT caucus of lacking the credibility to take part in the probe.
“Allowing councilors who have accepted political donations from a bidder to be in the task force shows that the KMT caucus is carrying out a perfunctory probe into the matter and I don’t want to be part of such a team,” he said during the meeting, before leaving the room in protest.
Yang insisted that the investigation is targeting the project’s first bidder, Taipei Gateway International Development, and whether he accepted political donations from the second-priority bidder should not be an issue.
The construction project has been indefinitely stalled after the city government’s cooperation with a multinational consortium led by Taipei Gateway International Development collapsed and led to a probe into bribery allegations in the bidding process.
Prosecutors have taken KMT Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如) into custody over her alleged deal with the developer to help it secure the bid in exchange for a NT$10 million (US$336 million) bribe, and listed Taipei City Finance Department Commissioner Chiu Da-chan (邱大展) as a defendant.
The city government’s planned negotiation with BES Engineering Corp for a contract has also been stalled due to the ongoing probe into the project’s bidding process.
New Party Taipei City Councilor Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯), who is heading the task force, said it would ask Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to clarify the city’s handling of the project, and will look into the role played by Chiu and city officials in Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems.
The task force will complete its probe and present an investigation report by June, he said.