Despite President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) remarks that now is not the right time to assign blame for mass flooding in southern Taiwan from Typhoon Fanapi, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday continued trading accusations over the disaster.
Saying that the DPP was Taiwan’s ruling party for eight years and has governed in Kaohsiung for the past 12 years, KMT Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the DPP should not shift blame to the central government and should instead focus her attention on reconstruction.
“Chen’s comments that the central government should take 80 percent of the responsibility for the drainage construction in Kaohsiung only frustrate Kaohsiung residents more and show her lack of a sense of responsibility,” Su said.
Chen made the comment in response to criticism by KMT Kaohsiung City councilors who faulted the municipal team’s disaster relief work and drainage system design after the typhoon.
Arguing that the central government has devoted full efforts to the relief and reconstruction work in the aftermath of the flooding, Su yesterday said Chen should join efforts with the central government in the reconstruction, rather than shifting her responsibility.
DPP officials, on the other hand, insisted the blame does not lie with the Kaohsiung City Government.
One day after the flooding, KMT legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) accused Chen of placing her own re-election bid first and the safety of residents second — after showing documents that suggested her administration spent part of its water treatment budget on municipal promotions.
Chiu yesterday said the flooding was caused by human error, alleging that the city government neglected water treatment issues for years and questioning whether it had dredged city ditches prior to the typhoon.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said Chiu’s accusations took information out of context.
Chiu “played around with the numbers and is trying to connect two unrelated things,” Huang said.
According to the DPP caucus, promotional funding was drawn from a budget for human resources.
Kaohsiung City officials said the misunderstanding arose because the city government disbanded its public relations office in July at the request of the KMT-led city council. Instead, it takes its promotional funding from various city branches.
“Everything was done according to the letter of the law,” said Hsu Li-ming (�?�), director-general of the city government’s Information Office. “Not a cent was drawn from the water treatment engineering budget.”
Huang said another report issued by the National Auditing Office highlighting deficiencies in Kaohsiung City’s water treatment system, made public by Chiu on Tuesday, showed that KMT-administered Taipei City had even more unresolved issues.
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday that the central government should play a bigger role in managing flood prevention.
“Every time we see a flood like this happen, central and local governments are always unclear about their responsibilities,” she said. “But it is evident that only the central government has the power and funding to effectively handle the situation.”
At a separate setting yesterday, Chen said she did not mean to deflect responsibility with her remarks on Tuesday.
“I never thought to shirk my responsibility,” Chen told a press conference as she offered an apology to Kaohsiung residents for their suffering from the flooding.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN
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