President, mayor address Taipei’s needs in high-profile meeting

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday discussed Taipei's needs with mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), left, in a high-profile meeting at Taipei Post Office. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday discussed Taipei’s needs with mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in a high-profile meeting at Taipei Post Office, near the historic North Gate, center of an urban renewal project undertaken by the city government.

The head-to-head was the first of Tsai’s planned meetings with the newly-elected mayors of the six special municipalities after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) heavy defeat in the Nov. 24 local government elections.

Tsai received a presentation about the city government-led urban renewal project, known as West District Gateway Project, at the North Gate plaza, before relocating to Taipei Post Office for a detailed briefing on the city’s five other development projects and discussions.

One of the issues discussed was the Taipei Dome, a stadium project that has been at a standstill since 2015 due to controversial safety concerns.

During the meeting, Tsai was urged to assist in coordination between the city and central government over land issues that have prevented the city government from beginning construction of planned access roads – aimed at easing traffic – to the Dome.

The city government’s evacuation plans for the Taipei Dome complex involve nearby Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall which is administered by the Ministry of Culture, Ko said. “Without the consent of the ministry, there is no solution to the problem.”

Tsai commended the city government’s West District Gateway Project, saying that people have begun to feel first hand the rejuvenation of older areas of the city, which she said has been a long standing desire of Taipei residents, including herself.

In the past two years, the Executive Yuan has worked actively with the city government in many areas, Tsai said. “The meeting today at which we took stock of the cooperative projects to be focused on in the next phase will ensure cooperation is more efficient.”

Tsai’s meeting with Ko has been characterized by local media as the DPP seeking his support in the upcoming by-election in January for a legislative seat vacated by the resignation of DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Yao Wen-chih (姚文智) during the election.

Ko was the first independent to win the capital city’s top job in 2014 with DPP support. His reelection made him the first independent to win the post without backing from a major party.

Since the reelection, there has been much speculation about whether Ko will challenge Tsai in the 2020 presidential race, a possibility he has not ruled out. Asked by a reporter if he will support Tsai in 2020, Ko declined to answer.

By Shih Hsiu-chuan