Prosecutors should question President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) about alleged profiteering and malfeasance in connection with the Taipei MRT Neihu Line, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors said.
The councilors, led by DPP Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠), visited the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigation Panel (SIP) yesterday to express their displeasure with the problems that have plagued the Neihu Line since it was opened to the public on July 4.
The line has suffered repeated glitches, including sudden stops and doors failing to open. Operations ground to a halt completely on July 10 because of a power failure.
The DPP councilors accused Ma of allowing certain companies to profit illegally from the construction of the Neihu Line, as well as making wrong decisions during his tenure as Taipei mayor.
Although Ma has amnesty from prosecution because of his position as president, the councilors urged prosecutors to open an investigation into the matter and bring Ma in for questioning as soon as his term in office has expired.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the matter, saying only they would process the case in accordance with the law.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) said the Neihu Line’s original plans did not include a stop at the Taipei Songshan Airport.
Ma’s decision to add the airport stop resulted in a NT$7 billion (US$213 million) increase in the project’s price tag, Hung said.
After the city government awarded the Neihu Line construction tender to Kung Sing Engineering Corp (工信工程), Kung Sing outsourced the project to Canada-based contractor Bombardier Inc, but the government is holding Bombardier responsible while letting Kung Sing off the hook, Hung said.
This is unreasonable, he said.
The number of problems that have occurred on the Neihu Line casts doubt on the decision-making process behind the construction of the line, Yen said.
“Ma’s aggressive direction of the decision-making process lies at the root of the MRT’s glitches,” she said.
Yen said that Ma’s choice of a medium-capacity, above-ground system had been a forceful rejection of an agreement reached by the Taipei City Council.
The Presidential Office said on Tuesday that Ma was following the Executive Yuan’s decision from 1993 to have a medium-capacity system.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元), who was a Taipei City councilor when Ma was Taipei mayor, said at a separate setting on Tuesday that Ma had been the one who decided to adopt a medium-capacity system and construct the line above the ground.
He urged Ma to take responsibility for his decision.
Tsai, a legislator from the Neihu District (內湖), said Neihu residents and local city councilors had urged the Ma administration to build the Neihu Line underground, but Ma decided to build the line above-ground because of construction difficulties.
“I don’t think it was necessarily the wrong decision, but I don’t understand why Ma refuses to admit that he made the decision,” Tsai said.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), a former Taipei City Government spokesman, also said that Ma had decided to build a medium-capacity line above the ground and it was this proposal that was sent to the Taipei City Council for approval.
Meanwhile, the DPP’s Taipei City Council caucus yesterday accused former Taipei deputy mayor Samuel Wu (吳秀光), a major aide to Ma during Ma’s terms as Taipei mayor, of taking bribes from a sub-contractor of the Neihu Line.
The caucus said Wu, who served as head of Taipei City’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission under Ma’s municipal administration in 1999, played an important role in determining which electrical and mechanical system to purchase for the Neihu Line.
Wu also served as an adviser to Lai Fu Trading Co, contractor for the line’s electrical and mechanical systems, after leaving Ma’s administration in 2004.
“Being a major aide for Ma and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), Wu was deeply involved in the decision-making process behind the Neihu Line construction. Prosecutors should look into his role in the construction process,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) said at the Taipei City Council.
Hsu and DPP Taipei City councilors Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) and Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) accused Wu of accepting a hefty “adviser’s fee” from the company to secure the contract for the company.
Wu left the Ma administration in 2004. He became an adviser to the company and received a NT$90,000 monthly adviser’s fee between 2005 and 2006. He served as deputy Taipei mayor in Hau’s administration in 2006, but stepped down last year after he acknowledged having accepted money from the company.
Wu yesterday dismissed the DPP’s accusations, saying he received the money as a consulting fee for his expertise on national security and the military and for conducting research.
He denied being involved in the bidding process for the Neihu Line construction project and said the councilors should provide solid proof when making accusations.
TAIPEI REACTIONS: Joanne Ou decried China’s ‘gangster diplomacy,’ while MOFA said its Fiji counterpart dealt fairly with the incident and protected the trade office’s rights The world should denounce the actions of Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji against a Taiwanese diplomat during a National Day celebration in Suva, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday as it thanked the Fijian government for its help after the Oct. 8 incident. Two Chinese diplomats tried to force their way into a celebration held by the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Oct. 8, and a Taiwanese diplomat who tried to stop them taking photographs suffered a head injury. MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news briefing that the ministry
The US, Japan and Australia conducted trilateral naval exercises in the South China Sea on Monday, the US Seventh Fleet announced yesterday. It was their fifth joint operations this year in the fleet’s area of operations, it said in a statement. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain joined the JS Kirisame of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Arunta. The Arunta’s commanding officer, Commander Troy Duggan, said that Australia was continuing to build on its already close relationship with Japan and the US. “This activity is a valuable and important opportunity for all three nations,”
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
Seabed waste off the west coast is 1.5 times higher than the global average, with the mouth of the Tamsui River (淡水河) nearly 90 times dirtier, the environmental consultancy IndigoWaters (澄洋環境顧問) said yesterday. The firm in September last year began collaborating with local oceanographers on Taiwan’s first survey of seabed waste off the west coast, collecting 6,000 samples from near the mouths of eight rivers and conducting 215 inspections. Of the samples, 83.3 percent were found to contain trash, the group said. Based on the survey, every square kilometer of seabed had about 121,074 pieces of trash weighing 102kg, IndigoWaters chief executive Yen