Ko toe-to-toe with KMT in first council session

By Chi-hao James Lo ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Newly appointed Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (�_����) led executive members of his cabinet yesterday to attend a municipal meeting at the Taipei City Council. Ko and his executive staff were reportedly aiming to make a good first impression on the city councilors. However, following their introduction, the new mayor and members of his cabinet began receiving verbal criticism from KMT council members when the floor was opened for questions. KMT Taipei City Councilor Lee Yen-hsiu (���ۨq) said during the questioning session that the city has been receiving more and more letters of concern as well as petitions from parents concerning the widely debated 12-year compulsory education program. Lee said the concerns stemmed from rumors that Ko’s new Department of Education Commissioner Tang Chih-min (���ӥ�) is seeking to amend the newly released version for Taipei City.

Lee said that the rumor has caused quite a stir and many have asked the mayor to refrain from amending the new policy. Re-elected KMT Councilor Wang Hong-wei (���E��) also presented Ko with petitions from parents, demanding the new mayor retain the previously proposed policy. Lee Ching-yuan (���y��), another of the KMT’s re-elected councilors, later criticized the new mayor, saying that Ko had decided on the demolition of the Zhongxiao West Road bus priority lane before he assumed office. The councilor also said that the cost of the removal of the lane was the initial quote proposed by the New Construction Office of the Taipei Public Works Department, which, he said, makes it seem as though negotiations were not conducted for the benefit of the Taipei tax payers. Lee went on to say that Ko’s actions since his election win have shown that the new mayor is too arbitrary in his decision-making, imploring Ko to base his future decisions on the voices of Taipei citizens without failing to abide by legal processes. DPP Councilors Back Ko While KMT councilors provided generally critical statements to Ko, the new mayor was also supported by a number of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councilors. At one point during Lee’s delivery, DPP Councilors Wang Shih-chien (���@��), Tung Chung-yan (������) and Chiang Chi-ming (���ӻ�) protested against Lee’s tone of questioning, citing misconduct against city council procedures, which prompted newly elected Taipei City speaker Wu Bi-chu (�d�ѯ]) to instruct a three minutes delivery limit. During an interview following the meeting, Ko told local press that he has never been in the presence of a scene such as the one today. He said that he is still observing the way things are done and found it very interesting.