Ko touts work of Clean Government Committee

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - Page 3

Taipei’s Clean Government Committee has already delivered “crashing thunder” that would bring a “rain” of consequences for any wrongdoing to be determined by judicial authorities, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday, dismissing criticism of the committee’s performance.

Ko comment put a new twist on the Mandarin idiom “crashing thunder followed by tiny raindrops” (雷聲大雨點小) — meaning a lot of talk for little action. The idiom has been used to criticize the results of the committee’s investigation into several controversial development projects contracted out by previous administrations.

Final reports issued by the committee on Wednesday failed to produce new accusations against specific city officials, instead referring several cases “as a whole” to the Control Yuan.

“The Taipei City Government is an executive body which can only conduct an executive investigation — not a judicial investigation,” Ko said. “We can only use the executive investigation to highlight any questionable issues, and pass the information to the judicial authorities.”

On the culpability of former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in relation to the cases, Ko said the city could only say as much as the evidence permitted and it would not be appropriate to make random accusations.

Ko added that the greatest benefit of the city’s investigation had been to establish new guidelines for build-operate-transfer (BOT) contracts and MRT joint development projects.

Ko on Wednesday said said the previous city administration practice of signing 50-to-70-year contracts for development projects was unrealistic because of the difficulty in estimating costs and profits over such an extended period of time.

In response to criticism from committee members for “hastily” wrapping up the “complex” cases, Ko said a deadline had to be set because the committee could not keep dragging out the investigations.

“It’s like a test — when you do not set a date, people take their time preparing, but as soon a date is set, people start burning the midnight oil,” Ko said.

Of the committee’s 14 members from outside the city government, half failed to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Ko’s decision to conclude investigations by Wednesday last week was made following criticism from Taipei city councilors that the investigation had been dragged out — violating governing regulations for the committee that state investigations should be concluded within three months.

Asked whether the committee would continue to operate, Ko said it helped relieve the burden on city personnel, adding it was “good” to allow residents to review the operations of the city government.