Hau Lung-bin criticized over development projects

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Fri, May 17, 2013 - Page 4

Taipei City councilors yesterday urged the Taipei City Government to re-examine major joint development projects and raise performance bonds for contractors to ensure the rights of households affected by such developments amid controversy over the Taipei Twin Towers and MeHAS City projects.

The Taipei Twin Towers project has been stalled due to the collapse of the city government’s contract with a multinational consortium led by Taipei Gateway International Development (太極雙星).

Allegations of bribery during the bidding process are also under investigation as prosecutors look into the possible involvement of government officials in the scandal.

The city’s MeHAS City project in Xindian (新店) with Radium Life Tech Co has also faced challenges after the Control Yuan admonished the city government last year for underestimating land values, allowing the contractor to secure higher profits when selling the units.

Radium Life Tech Co secured the project with a bid of NT$20 billion (US$667.2 million). The Control Yuan said the low appraisal caused the city government to incur a loss of NT$11 billion and said it should re-evaluate the price of the land.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), in presenting a report on the city’s joint development projects at a Taipei City Council meeting, came under fire for the city government’s handling of the projects.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) and Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒), and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Chin Hui-chu (秦慧珠) said the city should raise performance bonds for contractors and implement stricter selection rules.

Chin said more than 1,600 households affected by the MeHAS City project are unable to move into their new homes, which were scheduled to open in February, due to the land-price evaluation issue and urged the city to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

Tsai Hui-sheng (蔡輝昇), commissioner of the city’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems, said that the department will select two property appraisal companies to re-evaluate the land and construction costs by September.

Meanwhile, the city will allow the contractor to proceed with its transfer of ownership of the land before September if it agrees to pay a bond of NT$3.5 billion.

As to the Twin Towers project, Hau said the city government may nullify the project if the investigation finds the bidding process was flawed, while promising to keep information on joint development projects transparent in the future.

“Only by making related information transparent can we earn the public’s trust for joint development projects. We will ensure the rights of affected residents,” he said.

The city is working on a contract with the Twin Towers project’s second-priority bidder, BES Engineering Corp, while waiting for the results of the investigation.