Farglory’s Chao calls out Ko in Dome controversy

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan–After months of relative silence, Farglory Land Development Co. (遠雄建設) Chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄) called out Taipei City Government over the Taipei Dome the day after Mayor Ko Wen-je left town for an official visit to Tokyo. At a press conference held on Monday, Jan. 25, Chao criticized the city government for its “confrontational and populist approach” in the dispute with the real estate developer over the safety issues of the Taipei Dome. In response, Ko told reporters outside the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building that the safety of the Taipei Dome is a problem the developer “must face,” adding that the city government is hoping to solve it together with Farglory.

The city government suspended the construction of the Taipei Dome, a NT$3 billion complex comprising a 40,000-seat stadium, a shopping mall, a multiplex cinema, an office building and a hotel, on May 20, 2015, citing mainly the flaws in the Dome’s original safety and evacuation designs. The suspension is still in effect despite the fact that construction was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015.

Farglory released a 19-minute film at the press event to “explain the facts about the Taipei Dome” and said it will upload the video to its official website on Jan. 27. Citing figures from the Ministry of Finance, Chao said that Taiwanese businesses have cooperated with the government in 1,311 BOT (build-operate-transfer) deals from 2003 to Oct. 12, 2015. The deals, with a total contract value of around NT$1.1 trillion, are expected to cut government expenses by NT$940 billion, increase government revenues by NT$702.7 billion and create 210,000 jobs, the Farglory chairman said. Yet since Taipei City government’s “clampdown” on Farglory over the Taipei Dome project, Chao said, the total worth of BOT contracts awarded by the city government in 2015 was only 3 percent of that in the previous year. The chairman went on to slam the Ko government for “replacing cooperation with confrontation” and “substituting professionalism with populism,” thereby creating a “lose-lose-lose” scenario for the government, the people and the business sector.

The Farglory chairman is apparently stepping up his position over the controversy, about which the mayor said on Jan. 5 that he will “show his hand” to the chairman within half a month. Chao said that while Farglory has been servicing the loans for the Taipei Dome project since its May 2015, suspension, the corporation faces no financial problems as “the banks are very supportive.”

“(Farglory) has set no stop loss point” in its dispute with the city government, Chao said.