Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) position on the Taipei Dome debacle has become aligned with that of his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) predecessors, Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former Taipei Department of Urban Development commissioner Lin Jou-min (林洲民) said yesterday.
Lin, an architect, made the remark at a news conference in Taipei, where he joined New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) in announcing the launch of the Housing Right Reform Union.
Lin was commissioner under Ko from 2014 to last year. In May 2015, he ordered Taipei Dome contractor Farglory Land Development Co to halt construction due to public safety concerns.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Lin has often defended the Taipei City Government’s decision and insisted that Farglory must return to the Taipei Dome’s original design to ensure its safety before receiving approval from the Taipei Urban Design Review Committee to resume construction.
However, despite no computer simulations of emergency evacuation scenarios and numerous questions by Taipei city councilors left unanswered, the committee on Monday approved Farglory’s most recent design, only requiring it to make a few modifications.
Speculation on whether the decision was ordered by Ko has grown, as the mayor earlier that day told the Taipei City Council for the first time that the project could be completed during his term in office.
Lin on Monday evening criticized the committee’s decision as “pitiful and pathetic.”
Asked whether he believed that Ko ordered the department to let Farglory pass the review, Lin yesterday appeared to suggest that he believed the mayor did.
“What do you think? I have a good nose, eyes and reflexes, so my feeling should be the same as yours,” Lin said.
The design passed the review because two important parameters — “spectators’ unfamiliarity with the venue” and “panic during evacuation” — were removed from the simulation, he said.
The simulation was run without approximating the “worst-case scenario,” he added.
“The reality is that the first thing people do when they go see a ball game is buy popcorn, not look for the emergency exits,” Lin said, adding that people might panic during an emergency and look for their relatives, which would slow down an evacuation.
No other major venue could be approved without evacuation simulations considering those two factors, he said.
Asked if he thought Ko has changed, Lin said that the mayor’s attitude toward the project has certainly changed and is now aligned with that of Hau and Ma.
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