Taiwan Government in Brief: September 2016

Taipei Dome under construction, aerial view. Source: Wikipedia

Control Yuan censures Taipei

Taiwan’s Control Yuan censured the Taipei City government on August 11 for its handling of the controversial Taipei Dome project, a mixed-use arena and shopping mall complex being constructed at the corner of Guangfu North Road and Zhongxiao East Road by the Farglory Group under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement with Taipei City. Construction has been halted since last spring as a result of safety and contractual concerns by the city government. The Control Yuan criticized Taipei City for communicating its stance on the project through the media rather than directly with Farglory and for investigating the project through a task force convened by Mayor Ko that lacked the required legal mandate. At the same time, the report criticized Farglory for having “arbitrarily changed the approved blueprint and altered the construction work, which gave rise to public safety concerns.”

New law targets Kuomintang assets

Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT), also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party, has been among the world’s wealthiest political parties, owning assets such as enterprises and real estate. Controversy has existed for years as to whether various assets were obtained improperly through favoritism during the decades of one-party authoritarian rule. The newly elected administration of Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has vowed to deal with the issue, and a first step was taken in July when the Legislative Yuan, now also dominated by the DPP, passed the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and their Affiliate Organizations. The law mandates the return of illegally acquired assets to the state. Wellington Ku, a prominent lawyer and DPP legislator, was named to head the commission to investigate the source of all KMT assets acquired since August 1945. For its part, the KMT accused the current ruling party of bias and vowed to use every available legal instrument to challenge the law. The KMT stated earlier this year that it its current assets total no more than NT$16 billion (US$500 million), far below other estimates. In 2001 The Economist magazine estimated the party’s wealth to exceed NT$63 billion (US$2 billion).

Envoy-to-be resigns over DUI charge

Taiwan’s newly appointed envoy to Singapore, Antonio Chiang, announced his resignation following his arrest for drunk driving. The 72-year-old newspaper columnist and former deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council resigned before assuming his post and after publicly apologizing for his behavior. Chiang was stopped by police just hours after he was sworn into the new position on August 9, with a blood alcohol of 0.27 mg/l, above the legal 0.15 mg/l. The Taipei District Prosecutors Office decided to fine him NT$60,000 (US$ 1,905), instead of pressing charges for endangering public safety.