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Outspoken professor named Taipei deputy mayor

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday named National Chengchi University professor Chang Chin-e (張金鶚) as a new deputy mayor.

Chang, from the school's Department of Land Economics, will take office on April 1.

Hau said he hopes that Chang's expertise will push forward Taipei's urban renewal.

The city government has been looking to fill the position since former Deputy Mayor Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) was tapped to be secretary-general of the Cabinet in February.

Chang said he has set himself three targets as deputy mayor. First, he said he hopes he can solve the long-stalled Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Shilin District.

Second, he will seek to utilize Taipei City's administrative resources to propose policies to solve the issue of unreasonably high-priced real estate in Taipei.

Third, he hopes to propose a road map for Taipei City's urban development, “to raise the quality of the city's cultural and living environments.”

Wenlin Yuan the First Priority

Hau said that Chang, as one of the country's foremost urban renewal experts, provided useful advice concerning the Wenlin Yuan issue in 2012.

The controversial urban renewal project made national headlines last year when two homes within the project's scope were demolished against the wishes of the owners, the Wang family.

The mayor said he will arrange a meeting with the Wang family and Leyoung Construction Corp. (樂揚建設) within two weeks, adding that last week he met with members of the 36 households that are part of the project.

“Taipei is the referee on the Wenlin Yuan project,” Hau said, adding that the city government will ensure that negotiations dealing with the project are transparent and fair for all those invovled.

Chang said that, as the new deputy mayor, he will seek a credible nonprofit organization to act as a neutral third party during talks on the project.

“I have faith that the Wenlin Yuan issue can be solved within one year and nine months,” Chang said, referring to the time remaining in Hau's current term.

Utilize Administrative Resources

“I am not a deputy mayor for the Wenlin Yuan project,” Chang said, and added that he has been researching Taipei's real estate conditions for a long time.

Chang said that once he takes office in April, he will work with the city government to propose policies to bring down the unreasonably high prices in Taipei's real estate market.

He said the city government should utilize its resources to analyze the Ministry of the Interior's real estate transaction price data.

DPP Casts Doubt on Chang

Taipei Councilor Lin Shih-tsung (林世宗) of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said he has no doubts about the new deputy mayor's financial expertise.

Lin said, however, that Chang has been publicly proclaiming his bearish views on Taiwan's real estate for a long time.

“I really hope that Chang will not lead Taipei's real estate sector into being a bear market, which would be very dangerous,” Lin was quoted as saying in a local report.

Chang assisted current DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) in drafting housing policy while Su was running for Taipei mayor in 2010, DPP city councilor Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said.

As Chang has worked for the DPP in the past, it is a tricky political move for Hau to name him the new deputy mayor, Chuang said.

The new deputy mayor's policy decisions could possibly come into conflict with the positions and aims of Hau's administrative team, the councilor added.

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Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), left, and newly named Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-e (張金鶚) pose for a photograph at a press conference, yesterday. Hau yesterday announced that Chang will take office on April 1. (CNA)

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