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Mayor: Taipei Dome Safety Symposium a Milestone for Taiwan Politics

On June 13, Mayor Ko Wen-je attended the Taipei Dome Complex Disaster Prevention and Evacuation Safety Symposium to listen to the opinions of scholars, neighborhood residents, Farglory, and tree protection groups.
During his closing remarks, the mayor noted that facing the problem is the first step toward solving the problem. He called out to the audience to not be afraid of confrontation in our society, though a mechanism to settle the confrontation is necessary.
The mayor attributed the controversy to three main factors: a confusion of time, a confusion of relations, and a confusion of law.
Noting that several participants pointed out that the problem should have been discussed 10 years ago, the mayor agreed and pointed out that the issue would have faced public scrutiny if Taiwan was a nation more advanced in civilization like the US or Japan. However, the nation has to develop and improve, and it has to examine past problems with newer standards.
On the issue of the confusion of relations, the mayor pointed out that it has to do with the complicated relations between politics and businesses – especially the two roles the government takes up in BOT (Build, Operate, and Transfer) projects. On one hand, the government functions as the partner of businesses; yet, it is also the supervising authority who holds the power of governance. The dual – and conflicting – role of Taipei City Government becomes a problem when dealing with the Taipei Dome BOT project. As the partner of businesses, the city government’s role as the defender of public interests and welfare cease to exist, and this is why there’s a confusion in relations/roles.
Finally, there’s the confusion of law. Noting that advances in technology develop faster than the pace of law, he believes that the safety report presented by the city government is not the last verdict because ultimately, it is the job and responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency to make the final judgement.
Pointing out that while the three confusions are products of history, Ko stressed that past problems still have to be resolved. Despite the difference of opinions from across the spectrum, he remarked that the government’s role is to mediate between the different voices and look after the welfare of the masses. The symposium itself is also a milestone for Taiwan politics as the government has taken steps to make public the problem it is facing over public construction projects.
Ko emphasizes that open government, public participation, and transparency are the core of his platform. All proceedings of the symposium is open to the media, and the records of the meeting are also available online.