Taipei mayor’s holding company plan criticized

CASTING ASPERSIONS::Wang Shih-chien asked Ko if he planned to benefit his friends in the business sector by allocating them city infrastructure projects

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Jun 05, 2016 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) yesterday raised questions about Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) proposal to set up a Taipei Holding Company, a policy first proposed by Ko’s then-rival Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in 2014.

During a question-and-answer session at the Taipei City Council, Wang cited a resolution made during a recent meeting convened by Ko that showed Ko instructed officials to make plans to establish a holding company.

Quoting Ko, who during his mayoral campaign criticized Lien’s idea of establishing such a company as a “scary” thought that posed the risk of under-the-table dealings between Lien’s family and business partners, Wang lambasted Ko for having proposed a similar idea.

He asked Ko whether he was planning to profit his friends in the business sector by allocating investments using the city government’s coffers.

Ko replied that the Taipei City Government has stakes in 12 firms, and that the holding company was proposed to revitalize city assets in a bid to generate more profits from public infrastructure operated by the companies.

He said the way he named the proposed holding firm was inappropriate and could have caused misunderstanding, and that he had asked Taipei Rapid Transit Corp to increase its revenue to prevent a hike in MRT fare prices.

The Taipei Department of Finance Commissioner Chen Chih-ming (陳志銘) said the city government would be the sole stakeholder in the holding company, as the purpose of the firm would be to manage the city government’s shares, not to buy more shares.

Wang also took issue with some of the resolutions passed during the city policy meetings Ko presided over, saying a review of resolutions passed at 72 such meetings indicated that more than 50 meetings were Ko’s “one-man show.”

Wang also asked Ko whether he is planning to “eliminate” bookstores in the Zhongshan Metro Mall between Zhongshan and Shuanglian MRT stations, and whether he is planning to favor Eslite Group in a public tender for the mall’s operating rights.

Ko dismissed both questions.

As the mall has been deficient since its establishment, its business model is to undergo a slight adjustment, Ko said, adding that officials are still trying to determine the scope of the adjustment.

He said that the operating rights would be auctioned off via a transparent bidding process.