After eight long years of traffic disruptions and the budget for the project being increased five times, the Taipei MRT Xinyi Line is finally up and running.
Media outlets fell over themselves in reporting how several of the stations on this line had specially designed landscapes outside them, with every report detailing how great the design was and that these must be the most beautiful MRT stations in the nation. However, the media showed almost no concern for the fact that the project cost for this short line of only 6.5km was NT$39 billion (US$1.3 billion) — or NT$6 billion per kilometer.
It is a good thing that the Xinyi Line is operational and that the stations have been designed tastefully, and can thus be used as spaces for the display of public art. However, spending an average of NT$4.197 billion per kilometer on construction work alone is far too much and very wasteful. It is also unreasonable that the budget for the project was increased five times. Can the government assure the public that this new line will not be plagued by the same problems caused by ill advice, just like the Wenshan Line between Muzha and Neihu? It is strange that the media outlets have not shown any interest in such issues.
A friend from overseas who has worked in Taiwan for many years once asked a question that is very pertinent to Taiwanese society. My friend asked why the Taiwanese government builds a whole heap of very expensive things with questionable quality. People in the know are well aware that this is related to the complex relationship between business and government.
Government debt, both central and local, is increasing rapidly, while ordinary people are having a hard time getting by because of the abysmal economy. However, there are still political hacks out there who have not yet changed their ways and continue to crave notoriety while wasting public funds and treating infrastructure like it is something ripe for their picking. They are still in the habit of spending large sums of money in an attempt to show off what they view as “political achievements.”
During the speech President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) gave at the opening of the Xinyi Line, he did not forget to take credit for developments, by telling everyone not to forget that the new line was something he made happen during his time as Taipei mayor. In all honesty, there is really nothing worth bragging about when an MRT line only a little more than 6km long cost almost NT$40 billion in taxpayers’ hard-earned money to build. Instead, what Ma should have done was express shame for wasting so much money.
If a few hundred million could have been saved for each kilometer of the Xinyi Line, not only could the government have solved the transportation problems faced by ill, elderly people in remote areas, but disadvantaged students around the nation could also have received the help they need in paying for their school lunches. Unfortunately, however, political hacks who are merely concerned with their own image and interests will never be able to see what is really of the most substantial benefit to Taiwanese.
Hsu Yu-fang is a professor in the department of Sinophone literatures at National Dong Hwa University.
Translated by Drew Cameron
China has started to call Tibet “Xizang” instead of Tibet for several reasons. First, China wants to assert its sovereignty and legitimacy over Tibet, which it claims as an integral part of its territory and history. China argues that the term Xizang, which means “western Tsang” in Chinese, reflects the historical and administrative reality of the region, which was divided into U-Tsang, Amdo and Kham by the Tibetans themselves. China also contends that the term Tibet, which derives from the Mongolian word Tubet, is a foreign imposition that does not represent the diversity and complexity of the region. Second, China wants to
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) might be accused of twice breaking his promises and betraying the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), then launching a signature drive for himself to stand as a candidate in January’s presidential election, only to turn around and quit the race. It clearly shows that rich people are free to do as they like. If that is so, then Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is the perfect example of a political hack who changes his position as easily as turning the pages of a book. Taiwanese independence supporters
On Nov. 15, US President Joe Biden reiterated the US’ commitment to maintaining cross-strait peace and the “status quo” during a meeting with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping (習近平) on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California. However, Biden refrained from making clear to Xi what Taiwan’s “status quo” exactly is (as the US defines it). It is not the first time Taiwan’s legal status has become an issue of contention. In September, Tesla CEO Elon Musk caused a media storm after he referred to Taiwan as “an integral part of China” during an interview. This ignorance about
Since the rancorous and histrionic breakup of the planned “blue-white alliance,” polls have shown a massive drop in support for Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), whose support rate has dropped to 20 percent. Young people and pan-blue supporters seem to be ditching him. Within a few weeks, Ko has gone from being the most sought after candidate to seeking a comeback. A few months ago, he was the one holding all the cards and calling the shots, with everything in place for a rise to stardom. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was still dealing with doubts