Councilors in suing war over explosions

Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - Page 3

Greater Kaohsiung City Council’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus is suing Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) for dereliction of duty that resulted in the loss of lives, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus on the council has countered with legal action against Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), a former Kaohsiung mayor, for “illegitimately” approving the burial of pipelines.

The gas pipeline explosions on July 31 and Aug. 1 killed 30 people and injured 310.

The KMT caucus, led by council speaker Hsu Kun-yuan (許崑源), went to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office to call for the prosecution of Chen and four other city officials — the deputy mayor, the heads of the Environmental Protection Bureau and the Fire Bureau and the Labor Affairs Bureau director-general — accusing Chen’s administration of trying to cover up their mistakes after the blasts and of wrongful death through their dereliction of duty.

Chen said she respects the KMT councilors’ action and stressed that prosecutors had already been probing the matter, and that the city government had provided all the needed information.

The DPP caucus also went to the prosecutors’ office, saying the cause of the disaster lay in faulty planning years ago by Wu, who the DPP said sanctioned the illegal burial of the pipelines carrying petrochemical materials in residential and commercial areas.

The DPP councilors accused Wu of corruption and unlawfully favoring certain petrochemical companies, including LCY Chemical Corp, an alleged culprit of the explosions.

The legal action taken by the KMT was in response to a group of protestors who lodged a complaint with Hsu on Monday.

Scores of people allegedly from explosion-stricken areas besieged the council building on Monday protesting Chen’s handling of the disaster and the aftermath.

They filed a complaint with Hsu, who promised them that he would call for a charge against the city government.

However, the protesters were countered by another group of people supporting the mayor and questioning the protesters’ identity as explosion-affected residents.

A village warden accompanying the protesters was identified as Kuo Feng-mo (郭豐模), the KMT leader of Linya District’s (苓雅) Hexu Village (和煦里), which was not affected by the blasts.

Kuo defended his presence by saying that he was once the chairman of the local village chief club and was there to lead those who need assistance to plead for help.