Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ko Wen-je VS the Construction-Industrial State: Ko wins one

Beachcombing in Hsinchu.

Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je is rocking the construction-industrial state. The Taipei Times reports...
The Taipei Dome and Farglory’s contract had become a source of controversy in recent days as Ko and his administrative team began looking at several major projects either underway or in the proposal stage.

Prior to last night’s meeting, Ko had said the Dome contract would have to be revised to increase the penalties for failing to meet deadlines. He also said discrepancies between the initial contract terms during the bidding process and the firm’s final contract needed to be discussed.

“Farglory has already gone past the deadline for completing the project, in violation of the contract,” Ko said earlier yesterday, adding that the original contract’s penalty clauses “do not have any real impact,” because they only allow the city government to fine the firm a total of NT$3 million (US$95,300) for violations.
Hacking on the previous administration, Ko pointed out that Control Yuan asked that 39 articles in the contract be revised, but the previous KMT administration had not done so. Former KMT Mayor Hau had used the infamous you-do-not-understand attack to defend himself from Ko's exposure of his administration's apparent embrace of big companies...
Countering criticism leveled at several projects undertaken during his administration, former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday accused Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and his team of using “defamatory” tactics to hide their “ignorance” of municipal issues.
Hau also defended himself by saying that everything had been done according to the law and passed the ethics commission. Such reviews in Taiwan are typically prima facie. KMT Chair Eric Chu has asked Hau to take over the National Policy Foundation, the KMT's internal think tank. Hau is a princeling, like Chu, another clue that "reform" under Chu is going to be limited to revamping and further locking down the Party's relationships with the local factions so they don't bolt. ADDED: Yam ripped him in an editorial captured.

So far, this is my favorite Ko moment:
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he has ordered all Taipei City Government departments to draft a complete list of all municipal property, after discovering that the controversial bus lane on Zhongxiao W Road includes a bus stop that is not listed as belonging to the city.
Ko also said he'd can the Taipei police chief if pro-PRC "protesters" in front of Taipei 101 continued their violent assaults on people; the chief subsequently retired, along with a fire department official. Ko is making everyone else administrating a county/city look bad. Commonwealth interviewed him in December shortly after his election victory.

BTW, some of you may recall that the Tax Bureau was pursuing Ko's family in a totally non-political case. Yesterday it dinged his parents for $31,200 NT. This is a symbolic figure -- once it was committed to the apparent harassment, it had to fine them, but if it had been a large amount, that would have called further attention to the fact that Ko's family was being pursued in a totally non-political case.

Mayor Lin Jia-long of Taichung killed the Taiwan Tower project in Taichung when its budget nearly doubled. Should that be read as a genuine commitment to curbing the construction-industrial state? Or just a one-off designed to make Lin look like he is doing a Ko Wen-je in Taichung, using a bad project with no great construction-industrial state support? For me the jury is still out on Lin. Another major project Lin has criticized, the BRT, saw an inevitable accident today.

Up and Coming for the KMT: As the TT reports, during the run up to the KMT Chairmanship election Chu hinted that he'd end the Party's assault on one of its most loyal servants, Legislative Speaker and longtime heavyweight Wang Jin-pyng (MaWangMess, MaWangMess). A group of legislators has proposed that the KMT withdraw its appeal of the court ruling that permitted Wang Jin-pyng to retain his position in the Party and in the legislature. Chu has delayed a response, but if he drops the appeal, it will be another declaration of Chu breaking with President and former KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (like his elimination of Ma's Zhongshan Council and return of power to the Central Standing Committee), who has been doing his Saruman-in-Orthanc imitation since the crushing defeat of the KMT in November. In fact the China Post report has Chu specifically saying he "respects Ma's authority", showing that Chu also views this issue as one that puts himself and Ma in conflict. The Ma-Wang mess really harmed the KMT's relations with its legislators. Surely Chu must sense the urgent need to fix that, and will drop the appeal. If not, then we know something about him and his relations with the KMT.
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