With the Nov. 27 special municipality elections drawing closer, the procurement scandals related to the Taipei International Flora Expo have become the focal point for disagreements between the pan-blue and the pan-green camp.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday led an offensive against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), criticizing its continuous attacks over the flora expo.
“Both the governing and the opposition parties should support the flora expo just as they did for the Kaohsiung World Games last year,” Ma said. “The DPP’s constant attacks on the expo will only result in a lose-lose situation that not only ruins the expo but also shames the country.”
“The flora expo is not just Taipei City’s flora expo but also the whole of Taiwan’s flora expo. This exposition will stand as a testament to Taiwan’s important role in the world of horticulture,” he said, reiterating his confidence that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) would hold a successful flora expo, scheduled to open on Nov. 6 and run through April 25 next year.
Responding to Ma’s remarks, DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said it is the opposition’s responsibility to supervise the government and that the DPP also hopes for a successful flora expo.
“Hau has only himself to blame for having screwed up the expo thus far” with a string of allegations that his team paid unreasonably high prices for flowers, vegetation and exhibition items slated for the expo.
Amid a string of procurement scandals related to the Taipei International Flora Exposition and the Xinsheng Overpass, Hau on Monday announced he had approved the resignation of his deputy mayor Lee Yong-ping (李永萍), adviser Chuang Wen-ssu (莊文思) and Chuang’s wife, Ren Shiao-chi (任孝琦), a secretary in Hau’s office.
The move came weeks after the city government was accused of buying flowers for the Taipei International Flora Expo and drainage piping for the Xinsheng Overpass at highly inflated prices. The city government’s slow response to the allegations only exacerbated the situation and hurt Hau’s image, costing him support in opinion polls less than three months before the election.
A poll conducted by the Chinese-language China Times suggested yesterday that Hau’s election opponent, Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of the DPP, now enjoys a support rate of 41 percent, two percentage points ahead of Hau.
When asked to comment on the poll, Hau said he would continue to work hard to win public support. He added that he was confident Taipei residents would recognize his hard work and competence when the city government successfully hosts the 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo.
Su, at a separate setting yesterday, said that it was still too early to call the election result as the difference in support between the two main candidates falls within the margin of error.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA AND STAFF WRITER
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