Monday, August 30, 2010

Flower Show Blues Impact Taipei Mayoral election

Up in Taipei the KMT Hau Administration, in a brutal election battle with the DPP over the mayorship, is taking a beating over the international flower expo in Taipei. The Taipei Times notes:
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) made his first response on Tuesday by revealing the prices of flowers used and saying that the city’s Department of New Construction paid about two times the market price for the flowers. However, Hau defended the incident as merely “administrative negligence” from civil officials, and slammed the DPP for politicizing the issue.

The Hau team’s failure to offer a clear explanation of the matter and thoroughly review the purchase plan presented the DPP with opportunities to issue more attacks, digging out more information to accuse the city government of paying up to 30 times the market price for flowers and turning the incident into a threat to Hau’s re-election bid in November’s special municipality elections.

“The civil servants who oversaw the purchase plans were either blind, or took kickbacks to have paid such ridiculously high prices for flowers. However, I think what’s more ridiculous is the city government’s slow and sloppy responses to the issue,” People First Party Taipei City Councilor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said.
These issues are hurting Hau at the polls. Apple Daily has Su Tseng-chang (DPP) up over Hau (KMT) 45-43, while TVBS has Hau up 51-49. TVBS notoriously underestimates pan-Green votes in its polls -- I'd argue that at this point Su is beating Hau. Hau also took a hit when it was revealed that water pipes for an overpass were purchased at several times the market price. The city government further muddied the waters when it said that the high-priced flowers were purchased for the overpass, not the expo.

The Flower Expo, which is slated to open on Nov 6 just ahead of the Nov 27 election, has a US$300 million budget. The Hau Administration had hoped to use the exhibition to gain leverage in the election, but it appears that just the opposite has happened. As the Taipei Times noted in an editorial:
Something smells in Taipei — and it’s not the 25 million flowers and plants purchased to decorate the city for the upcoming flora expo. Rather, it is Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) scrambling to explain why the city paid 30 times market price for the greenery to a contractor with ties to his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration. In recent days, investigators have also uncovered what appears to be the overpricing of building materials. It is ironic that Hau initiated the multi-billion-dollar project to boost his re-election bid in November.
The Flower Expo is the latest in very long string of failures that have occurred in Taipei under the Hau Administration. The Hau Adminstration, and Hau himself, are so lackluster that in rabidly Blue Taipei Hau is vulnerable. This public fail is on top of the very public failures like the Neihu metro line and the gondola project, and takes place amid long-term public frustration over rising housing prices in Taipei, now out of reach for most middle class Taiwanese. It is no wonder that, as a taxi driver put it the other day, there may be a change in the weather in Taipei come november.
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38 comments:

mx said...

The Flower Expo....has a US$300 million budget.

I have to wonder, are the kmtards living in a cave? Are they not aware of the financial crisises in the EU, EE, UK, US, Japan and China? Global economies are going down the toilet and the world is in a depression, yet these idiots waste $300 million on a flower show. Are they smoking opium again in the KMTHQ basement?

Worse still I rememeber reading a few weeks ago that the organizers have to borrow more funds to cover overbudget expenses. Add in the waste of the $150,000 (ea.) of the useless electronic metro signs, the completely idiotic design of the Bitan waterfront project, the idiotic Nanjing Traffic circle redesign disaster, etc., etc., etc. and you have to conclude these people do not have a clue about fiscal management (or urban design ~ hint: SHADING is mandatory). Instead of preparing for coming hard times they waste money doing these braindead projects. Fvcking retards. And this is my tax money.

Anonymous said...

Bid rigging is rampant with government contracts. Organized crime has a hand in everything and I would be interested to see who leveraged their connections to raise the capital to form a flower importing enterprise (upon Taipei winning the rights to the show) and then rigging the bid to a more than compliant KMT that figured nobody would follow the money. It is politics as usual.

M said...

There have definitely been some issues with Hau's administration. However, Hau's thinking is actually quite progressive. His DPP opponent has run a mostly negative, populist campaign.
For example, Hau has made big efforts to promote cycling in Taipei. He put in a bicycle lane on Dunhua Rd. It hasn't been as successful as hoped, so Su has relentlessly slammed it. But Su seems to have no policy to reduce car usage in Taipei City. On transportation, I can only see Su taking Taipei backwards.
Then Su suggested that Taipei could remove the charge on trash bags that has been incredibly successful in increasing recycling in Taipei and is now being copied by Taipei County.
The flower expo has a large budget for sure. But it will bring visitors to the city and stimulate the local economy. These are just the type of events that Taipei needs to be holding. How much was the World Games in DPP KHH?
Hau has even attended events to show his support for the gay community in Taipei. What a refreshing contrast to Frank "homosexuality should be tolerated but not encouraged" Hsieh.
Of course the other issue for Hau is that many in the KMT would be happy for him to lose, thus preventing a Su run in 2012.

Michael Turton said...

Haha. I was joking how ironic it would be if both the DPP and the KMT taipei campaigns were played to lose.

It's nice that Hau throws out a few sops to progressive politics. But he has his position because of what his father did during the martial law era, not because he is a man worthy of his post. And what his father did in those years was evil. Has Hau ever shown real progressiveness -- breaking with that past, criticizing it, promising restitution, etc? Speaking out on democracy, the judiciary, etc? Silly question.

The Taipei Flower Expo budget is US$296.5 million, according to the Taipei Times.

The Kaohsiung World Games is online:

http://www.worldgames2009.tw/wg2009/eng/koc_twg2009.php

Note that without the stadium, the K-town world games were $2.4 billion. The flower budget for the expo is $2.1 billion, according to the CPost:

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/local/taipei/2010/08/29/270562/Taipei-City.htm

and it is $9.5 billion for the whole expo, according to the TT.

In other words, the flower thing is $2 billion NT more than the World Games, including the world class stadium which is a permanent piece of infrastructure. Moreover the World Games brought plenty of positive publicity to the island. The Flora Expo, not so much.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

Instead of preparing for coming hard times they waste money doing these braindead projects. Fvcking retards. And this is my tax money.

I know exactly how you feel.

Anonymous said...

It's nice that Hau throws out a few sops to progressive politics.

There's progressive politics in Taiwan? Where? Certainly not from either of the major parties.

M said...

It's nice that Hau throws out a few sops to progressive politics.

Which is much more than Su has done during this campaign.
Why hasn't Su come up with any kind of progressive politics? Why does he want to go backwards on discouraging car use and encouraging recycling? These are the kind of issues I am concerned about as a resident of Taipei City.

But he has his position because of what his father did during the martial law era, not because he is a man worthy of his post.

He has his position because he was elected by the people of Taipei City.
Even Su Tseng-chang's father was a KMT official with a factional connections. This background was also vital in Su's early career.

And what his father did in those years was evil. Has Hau ever shown real progressiveness -- breaking with that past, criticizing it, promising restitution, etc? Speaking out on democracy, the judiciary, etc? Silly question.

No, of course not. Do you really expect someone with his background to do that? His father is still alive!!
The issues you mentioned are complex and are going to need time to solve.
Still, Hau has shown some progressive instinct with regard to running Taipei City, which his his job. Su has relied mostly on tired populism.

mike said...

"Moreover the World Games brought plenty of positive publicity to the island."

Show me just one such example which deserves your adjective "plenty".

Richard said...

Hau has even attended events to show his support for the gay community in Taipei. What a refreshing contrast to Frank "homosexuality should be tolerated but not encouraged" Hsieh.

Really? I know I'm not your average liberal blogger, but is that what being progressive means these days? Encouraging people to be homosexual? "Hey son, I know you like girls, but I wanna encourage you to try out guys."

M said...

Really? I know I'm not your average liberal blogger, but is that what being progressive means these days? Encouraging people to be homosexual? "Hey son, I know you like girls, but I wanna encourage you to try out guys."

Yes exactly. It is a deeply homophobic comment which assumes the presence of a vast army of gays ready to "groom" otherwise straight people into homosexuals. It also implies that homosexuality is somehow "wrong".

The thing is that the actions of DPP members is rarely subject to criticism or scrutiny in the green blogosphere.

Actually, Su Tseng-chang didn't do much in his 8 years as Taipei County executive to actually improve the environment for people living there.
Would he be a better mayor than Hao? Based on his campaign pronouncements, I am very doubtful.

Michael Turton said...

Actually, Su Tseng-chang didn't do much in his 8 years as Taipei County executive to actually improve the environment for people living there.

ROFL. How long have you lived in Taipei?

mike said...

"Moreover the World Games brought plenty of positive publicity to the island."

Name just one such example Turton.

Michael Turton said...

The thing is that the actions of DPP members is rarely subject to criticism or scrutiny in the green blogosphere.

If you're worried that DPP problems are undercovered, open a blog and have at it. If you want to guest post here critical of the DPP, happy to host.

Michael

mike said...

"Moreover the World Games brought plenty of positive publicity to the island."

Come on Turton - it shouldn't be too hard for you, why are you running from this? Give just one example of the World Games bringing "plenty of positive publicity to the island".

M said...

ROFL. How long have you lived in Taipei?

I live in Taipei City. When you cross the river to Taipei County, the contrast is noticeable. Of course, a lot of the reason is that Taipei County had to make do with far fewer funds. But really, in 16 years of DPP rule in Taipei County, not too much improved. How many illegal gravel operations did they manage to get rid of? Is there really an excuse for the complete absence of side-walks anywhere? Why did it take a KMT executive to copy Taipei's effective trash bag scheme?

Su's main accomplishment seems to be the Xinban special district. Construction projects seem to be his main thing. Sound familiar?

Richard said...

M, I guess for me there's a difference between encouraging someone to be homosexual, and just encouraging them to be themselves. And funny you should mention the "grooming" part, because yes I have come across a few gays (lesbians) that like to try and bring out the gay in otherwise straight girls. So am I a homophobe? No. But do I believe homosexuality is wrong? Yes. Does that mean I'm going to champion the streets of Taipei or wherever with anti-gay remarks? No. Anyways, before we get way off topic here, that will be my last comment on that.

As far as DPP criticism on green blogs, Michael's done it on his blog a-plenty and you can check out my archive as well. Especially when it comes to CSB and the way he handled things in the past and currently, I think you'll find a fair share of DPP criticism in that respect.

Dixteel said...

I don't really care, man. U want a flower exhibition, gun exhibition, toilet exhibition, homosexual exhibition, heterosexual exhibition, no-sex exhibition, or a all day talk show about how old people should have sex...etc in Taipei City...I don't give a F**K, man. Just don't spend billions on them and buy stuffs at 30 times market price.

Michael Turton said...

Come on Turton - it shouldn't be too hard for you, why are you running from this? Give just one example of the World Games bringing "plenty of positive publicity to the island".

Are you serious? I can't even go out for a two hour bike ride?

Google a few terms, you'll soon find articles on the eco-friendly world games, the big new stadium, etc.

Mike said...

Far out, and now we recently learn that the amount of money Hau spends on the flower expo is equivalent to all the budget that Chiayi County gets for an entire year?! Oh yeah, I forgot. Taipei City, until the legislator by-elections early last year had been a KMT stronghold in the north...

Not surprised. KMT has consistently claimed their professionalism in managing finance (euphemism for "fostering complete and utter inequality"), when in reality they rely upon using mountains of stats immersed within a ocean of political and techical language (to make them sound all the more pro). And then expect everyone to belive them. Makes me speechless.

Oh and "M" has Su really done nothing in his 8 years as Taipei County Magistrate? I wonder what Chou has done for Taipei County? Or even better; I wonder what Hau has done for Taipei City? Actually, the ultimate question, which you know is coming anway -- what has Ma done for Taiwan? Enough said.

Polls? Think Taipei and Xinbei have been close for the last couple of months. Taipei's been close ever since Su announced his bid, everything has been within +/- 4% or less for the last couple of months. Always suspected that Su's lead had been secretly "ignored" by TVBS, and they only publish results when the stats/ sampling gives them a lead on Hau's behalf. Though Xinbei seems to have produced some interesting "flunctuations" with the TVBS putting Eric Chu at 47% to 40% support against Tsai; DPP's own poll puts both at 42%; whilst I-tel's poll has Tsai up at 55% with Eric Chu at 45% [this one did however, omit the option "undecided".] Hmm... and I-tel's and TVBS polls were conducted around the same day, and both released on the 23rd August?

Michael Turton said...

Not only that but as the DPP pointed out the other day, Hau has taken an ADDITIONAL up to $500 million NT from the reserve funds meant for emergencies and pumped it into the flower exhibitions.

Mike said...

When the KMT gets their priorities right, I believe many more will suffer. How can you take money away from emergency funds (especially after what happened August last year!!!) and use for a flower expo. Speechless.

Michael Turton said...

I live in Taipei City. When you cross the river to Taipei County, the contrast is noticeable. Of course, a lot of the reason is that Taipei County had to make do with far fewer funds. But really, in 16 years of DPP rule in Taipei County, not too much improved. How many illegal gravel operations did they manage to get rid of? Is there really an excuse for the complete absence of side-walks anywhere? Why did it take a KMT executive to copy Taipei's effective trash bag scheme?

Lessee.... a few items.

dredging the Keelung River and other waterways
riverside parks
Danshuei Fishermen's Wharf
Yingge Ceramics Museum,
Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology
Gold Ecological Park Museum
Tingpu High Tech Park
Tatung Industrial Park

Taipei county was basically transformed during his tenure. There's quite a bit more. He also made a name for himself as Pingtung Magistrate. Nothing that Hau has done compares to that. Of course, Hau started with the much higher base that Chen had created.

Just look at K-town, I-lan, and Taipei under Chen Shui-bian. Even Tainan. Then look at Taichung and Miaoli and other KMT ruled places (like Keelung). In general, the DPP does a better job than the KMT, even with fewer resources.

@Mike, yes TVBS is my favorite poll, they are reliable in their underestimation of the pan-Green vote.

Michael

Okami said...

About Taipei City/county disparity, I lived in Taipei County for 8 years and it got better and more developed every year and dare I say prettier (soft bigotry of low expectations but true). Taipei city got what during that time besides a quiet resurgence of gambling parlours and what again? Aside from more traffic and ever rising land prices Taipei City hasn't improved in a lot of areas. That happened despite the huge disparity in funding they both get. Tucheng and Sanxia became livable. I wouldn't have used that term for them 8 years ago. Xindian went from a dump to a very nice place to live during that time. Yungho and Zhongho became cleaner and much nicer places to live. They've always had horrible traffic however. Danshui was a pimple on the ass of Taipei City when I first came here. Over a 10 year period there has been a quiet revolution between the 2 and the County has come along way while Taipei still dawdles. I definitely know which FAP I enjoyed dealing with more.

M said...

dredging the Keelung River and other waterways
riverside parks
Danshuei Fishermen's Wharf
Yingge Ceramics Museum,
Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology
Gold Ecological Park Museum
Tingpu High Tech Park
Tatung Industrial Park


That is quite a weak list Michael. Taipei City also has riverside parks, and has cleaned up its waterways. It has technology/industrial parks, as well as plenty of museums. Since A-bian was only mayor for 4 years, he can only take a little of the credit for this.

I have only lived in Taipei for 6 years, but nearly everyone you speak to says the environment is significantly improved on the 1990s.

Okami - you have lived in Taipei County for 10 years - 5 under a DPP executive and 5 under a KMT executive. Does all the credit for the improvement go to the DPP executive?

mike said...

"Google a few terms, you'll soon find articles on the eco-friendly world games, the big new stadium, etc."

Sure, but almost all of that is domestic, not international and so none of it is sufficient to support your claim. Aside from one article buried inside the architecture subsection of the New York Times, this "plenty of positive publicity for the island" seems to be conspicuous by its absence.

This claim that the World Games was so successful in drawing international attention to Taiwan was made as soon as the World Games was over - it was bullshit then, and it's bullshit now. There was almost zero coverage of the World Games by any major Western news outlet. The television audience for the World Games seems to have been exclusively domestic, not international.

Show me some facts that can sufficiently support this claim that the World Games brought "plenty of positive publicity to the island" and I'll let it drop.

Michael Turton said...

That is quite a weak list Michael. Taipei City also has riverside parks, and has cleaned up its waterways. It has technology/industrial parks, as well as plenty of museums. Since A-bian was only mayor for 4 years, he can only take a little of the credit for this.

No shit. I said it was incomplete. You've shifted goalposts on me too. Su accomplished more with less, period.

Michael Turton said...


Sure, but almost all of that is domestic, not international and so none of it is sufficient to support your claim.


I knew you'd pull this fucking bullshit. If you can't find articles on CNN, etc, articles on the stadium being the best in the world -- which I blogged on -- you can't blame me for your own incompetence.

Michael Turton said...

I have only lived in Taipei for 6 years, but nearly everyone you speak to says the environment is significantly improved on the 1990s.

I lived in Taipei beginning in 1989. I heartily agree. And the massive wave of improvement began under Chen. Before him Taipei was a nightmare.

mike said...

You're the one with the bullshit and incompetence problem, not me.

You have one CNN article, a minor NYT piece and perhaps one or two others dotted around here and there. Underwhelming. There was no international television audience to speak of, and very little newspaper coverage.

You can take your technicality but you're not entitled to your claim that there was "plenty of positive publicity", and you should, being a fundamentally honest man, retract it.

Yes the Flora Expo is a colossal waste of money, but to claim the World Games wasn't because it drew lots of international publicity is simply not true.

Michael Turton said...

There was no international television audience to speak of,

http://www.campaignasia.com/Article/209599,espn-star-sports-to-promote-world-games-2009-kaohsiung.aspx

and very little newspaper coverage.

You're just playing games, Fagan.

Anonymous said...

MT, to be fair, the World Games didn't get anything like international publicity. Mike has you here. Heck, even my mom, who's about the biggest sporting fan in the world and almost religiously watches international sport of any kind, had never even heard of them until I mentioned them.

Anonymous said...

Richard said

So am I a homophobe? No. But do I believe homosexuality is wrong? Yes.

Nice contradiction there. If you believe it's wrong, you are a homophobe. Simple as that.

It's no different to "I'm not a racist but....".

mike said...

"You're just playing games, Fagan."

Ha! Your puns are better than your rebuttals.

ESPN may have had a limited showing of the World Games in Asia, but it seems likely next to nobody bothered to watch it. And in any case, the politically important market was always the U.S. not Asia.

Your claim of "plenty of positive publicity" is a very ugly stretch of the limited facts and you should take it back.

Michael Turton said...

I retract it.

mx said...

@ Mike, You make yourself look like an jerk challenging MT over one freaking word.

Now that I can see your true nature, I'll be sure to skip over your lame letters to the Taipei Times from now one.

M said...

The World Games did get at least some positive international publicity for Taiwan and it was enjoyed by the local residents. I hope the same happens for the flower expo.
Organizing events like this is a positive thing for Taiwan, and it will give the experience to host larger events in the future.

As for the timing of the flower expo - it couldn't be much worse for Hao. These type of events normally produce negative publicity in the early stages before problems/controversies are ironed out.

The expo was actually awarded to Taipei during Ma's term, and the timing dictated by the organizing authority.

frozengarlic said...

I love the photo for this post. Great summary of a political disaster.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks! You're the only one who commented. But I thought it was perfect.