Mayor unapologetic, calls for full transparency on quarantine sites

Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) speaks at a press conference in Taipei on Feb. 3, 2020. (CNA)
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) speaks at a press conference in Taipei on Feb. 3, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) refused to apologize yet again on Monday for disclosing one of the five locations the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) had arranged for Taiwanese evacuees from Wuhan.

The CECC is on high alert as it prepares the arrival of approximately 500 Taiwanese from Wuhan following days of negotiation with Beijing, with five locations set aside nationwide for 14 days of monitoring and quarantine.

Earlier Sunday, Ko told reporters that the northern site is the old dormitory of the Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行) on Yangmingshan (陽明山), a once popular city-designated historic site in the vicinity of the Chinese Culture University (中國文化大學) and National Yang-ming University (國立陽明大學).

Health and Welfare Minister and chief commander of the CECC Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) had said that the center planned to keep the locations confidential to prevent unnecessary panic and stigmatization.

When asked if he would like to apologize for exposing the location on Monday morning, Ko compared Taiwan to China, saying that “information censorship” was the whole reason why the novel coronavirus outbreak spun “out of control,” therefore the CECC should always be fully transparent with the public.

Signs that read "sold out of face masks" are seen at a convenient store in Taipei on Feb. 3, 2020. (Courtesy of Lisa Chang.)
Signs that read “sold out of face masks” are seen at a convenient store in Taipei on Feb. 3, 2020. (Courtesy of Lisa Chang)

“It’s better to announce now than letting people find out later which will cause a greater backlash,” Ko said.

Ko continued to blame the CECC for not reminding him which information is confidential, saying that “had they wrote confidential on the document address to me, I wouldn’t have said a thing.”

CECC commander Chen said late last night that Ko will be reprimanded according to the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases Act.

Following the exposure, the Chinese Culture University Student Association (CCUSA, 中國文化大學學生會) requested that the CECC and Taipei City Government reconsider in a statement issued Sunday afternoon, saying that it being far too adjacent to the campus will likely “stir up panic and even hinder epidemic prevention measures.”

The association also called on Ko to conform with the CECC before making an announcement.