Taipei Mayor Ko goes postal over post offices

By Yuan-Ming Chiao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan–Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) attacked the relevancy of the nation’s post offices on Thursday, saying they “should disappear from the face of the earth.” Just hours later, the mayor apologized for his comments while commending the work of the nation’s postal workers. The mayor started the morning unimpressed with the postal institution. He added that its functions had largely been replaced by email and Line (Ko’s preferred means of delegating orders) and could be more efficiently utilized.

Ko made the remarks after a press conference regarding city funding for his public housing initiative (see below).

Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) who stood next to Ko while the mayor made his latest off-the-cuff remark, tried his best to whitewash the comment as it happened, saying “post offices are still quite important.” But Ko continued on his verbal rampage, saying that he had not stepped into one for decades. The mayor ate his words hours later, saying his comments were meant to be a joke. Apologizing to all national postal workers, Ko said he was later briefed by his aides who informed him that postal services have gone beyond mail delivery and include financial services such as the postal banking and personal insurance packages.

Chunghwa Post (中華郵政), the national postal service, averages NT$300 million in revenue from e-commerce alone each year. From Feb. 1, all but two post offices (locations in Alishan and the National Palace Museum) will close on Sundays. NT$134.3 Billion for

Public Housing Meanwhile, Ko said that a proposal to provide 20,000 public housing units in the city would require an additional NT$134.3 billion from the city budget. The mayor’s proposal is aimed at providing rental alternatives for the city’s exorbitant property prices.

The city government estimates that public housing units will begin construction in 46 separate locations by 2018. It estimates that it will take roughly 36 years of operations for the city to break even on costs with rent (including surrounding commercial plots) and parking space. Public housing in the city will likely require cooperation from the central government, which owns much of the land on which the city could build the units.

It is unclear whether the central government is ready to provide the 20.95 hectares the city requires. The city aims to keep rental costs for public housing at NT$600 per ping (one ping is equivalent to 3.3 square meters).