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May 27, 2017

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Councilor urges Taipei gov't to delay Twin Towers agreement

The China Post--Taipei Councilor Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) yesterday cast doubts over the Taipei Twin Towers (台北雙子星) project, asking the Taipei City Government to renew the bidding process for Parcel C1/D1, on which the buildings are to be built, or at least delay the finalization of its agreement with the consortium lead by Taipei Gateway International Development Co. Ltd. (太極雙星).

Wang said that Taipei Gateway International Development Co. Ltd. promised to return 55 percent of the property rights to the plots' landowners, while BES Engineering Corporation, who came in second, had promised 65 percent.

Given that the gross floor area of the buildings is 158,000 ping (1 ping equals 3.3 square meters), and that the estimated price per ping is NT$950,000, Taipei will receive NT$150 billion less by inking a contract with Taipei Gateway International Development Co. Ltd. instead of BES Engineering Corporation, the councilor said.

In response, Lin Hsun-chieh (林勳杰), head of the Joint Development Division (聯開處) under Taipei's Department of Rapid Transit System (DORTS, 捷運工程局), said that the above-mentioned percentage was not the only factor assessed in the bidding process, and that the evaluation panel, consisting of government officials and related experts, had reached an almost unanimous decision in its selection of bidders.

There are various questionable points in relation to the development project, Wang said, adding that there may have been under-the-table dealings involved in the bidding process.

In response, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said that the city government will disclose all the details once the cooperation agreement has been finalized.

Hau also said that Taipei's Department of Government Ethics (DOGE, 政風處) was involved during the entire process, and that there are complete audio and visual recordings.

The mayor added that his city government will undoubtedly make sure that the rights of citizens are ensured.

Taipei Councilor Ying Hsiao-wei (應曉薇) also recently raised doubts over the project's bidding process by arguing that there is reason to suspect the company that came out first is a "shell corporation."

Ying said that Taipei Gateway International Development Co. Ltd., the firm that won priority over others for consideration, only has a capital of NT$77 million, whereas the project is estimated to cost over NT$70 billion.

DORTS officials, however, said in response that the consortium headed by the aforementioned firm includes IGB Corporation Berhad, which alone has a net worth of NT$20.9 billion — almost double the threshold set at NT$10.5 billion.

In response to the numerous allegations leveled against it, Taipei Gateway International Development Co. Ltd. released a statement on Nov. 12 saying that it has complied fully with city regulations.

Furthermore, the statement indicated that the firm has hired a team of legal experts and is ready to sue those who make false allegations against it.

According to local reports, the DOGE and Control Yuan have begun investigations into the case, and will find out whether there were incidents of misconduct concerning city officials.

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