President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was accused of having rigged the bidding process for the Taipei Dome project to favor Farglory Land Development Co (遠雄建設) as media reports yesterday disclosed information about the bid decision meetings held when Ma was Taipei mayor in 2003.
The latest issue of the Chinese-language Next Magazine reported that Ma took control of the bidding selection committee by rejecting the candidates who were on the list compiled by the Executive Yuan’s Public Construction Commission in accordance with the Act for Promotion of Private Participation in Infrastructure Projects (促進民間參與公共建設法) and instead handpicked other external members.
Although the act stipulates that at least 12 of the 17 committee members must be selected from outside the city government, Ma effectively dominated the committee as he appointed then-deputy mayor Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) and suggested three external members in addition to five city government officials attending the committee ex officio, the report said.
Ma asked his confidant Lee Sush-der (李述德), then commissioner of the city government’s department of finance and a member of the selection committee, to take over contract negotiations with Farglory when the talks entered the second phase, which testified to Ma’s “strong will” in the matter, Next Magazine reported.
Next Magazine said it examined 23 documents and audio recordings of the committee’s meetings related to the bid.
All the documents covering major decisions concerning the project had Ma’s personal signature on them, rather than a “signature stamp,” Next Magazine said, in reference to Ma’s defense over the controversial contract for the MeHAS city project that someone else stamped his signature on the contract.
According to the audio recordings, the committee determined that Farglory was a qualified bidder before questions were raised by some committee members regarding how its plan would affect traffic flow, public safety and urban planning were adequately addressed by the company, the report said.
In other developments, SET-TV yesterday aired a report in which Songshan Tree Protection Volunteer Union director of policy Arthur Yo (游藝) alleged, based on the audio recording of a meeting in June 2004, that Lee had tried to persuade then-city councilors to meet a request by Farglory that the city government revise its regulations to allow land set aside for the Taipei Dome construction to accommodate residential buildings.
Lee could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Presidential Office spokesperson Charles Chen (陳以信) denied that the Taipei government at that time was biased in favor of Farglory.
Chen cited as an example that the city government had twice appealed against a decision by the Public Construction Commission that demanded the city government continue negotiations with the developer over the contract after the selection committee asked for suspension of the negotiations over its changing of subcontractors.
Chen said Ma would not shirk any responsibility that he, as a former Taipei mayor, should shoulder if there was any irregularity involving anyone in the city government.
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