Missing mayors at Cabinet meeting spur rumors
By Adam Tyrsett Kuo, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The heads of the five special municipalities yesterday failed to show up at a Cabinet Council meeting in which Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) spoke about the nation's flood prevention policies, leading to widespread speculation about the mounting discontent between the local and central governments.
September 6, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
The mayors sent deputies in their places.
Jiang said that efforts to curb flooding ought to cross partisan boundaries and should be dealt with seriously.
The premier urged central and local government officials not to stand by their default positions and to reassess the efficacy of related projects together.
Jiang's words were interpreted by local media as an attempt to lessen the perceived gap between the central government and the local government over the volatile issue.
The most recent tropical storm that Taiwan saw caused extensive floods in the island's southern cities and counties, prompting the heads of the local governments in Southern Taiwan to ask for an additional NT$60 billion.
Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) reportedly criticized the Chiayi County Government for not acting fast enough to counter the floods, whereas his deputy, Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇), said on Wednesday during the Kuomintang's (KMT) weekly Central Standing Committee meeting that several local governments hadn't been placing enough emphasis on storm drains, judging from the amount of money spent.
Political commentators predicted the day before yesterday that the heads of the special municipalities would blast the Cabinet during today's council meeting; however, none of the mayors actually showed up, while the conference went on “eerily silent.”
Jiang reportedly stressed that the Cabinet attaches a great deal of importance to flood prevention, adding that there should be no divide between political parties or the central and local governments.
The premier further stressed that the cause, rather than the symptoms, of floods should be treated, in order to arrive at an effective solution.
The Cabinet recently established a task force to inspect the results of the previously allocated eight-year NT$80 billion budget for flood prevention. The assessment is slated to take place over a period of three months.
Commentators have noted that despite the previous NT$80 billion budget, regions across the island still saw extensive floods during the recent tropical storms, prompting questions about how the local governments had actually spent the money.