Legislators, scholars call for Kaohsiung mayor to step down
Central News Agency
2014-08-08 11:30 PM
Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu should step down to take responsibility for the loss of 30 lives in deadly gas explosions that ripped through her city, the Legislative caucus of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) demanded Friday. KMT legislator and party whip Alex Fai charged at a press conference that the mayor had been lying until Thursday morning about the existence of the underground pipeline suspected of being the source of a propylene leak that caused the blasts on July 31. For days, Chen had said that the city had no knowledge of the existence of the pipeline, but she later apologized for the inaccurate statement after it was revealed that the city's Mass Rapid Transit Bureau knew of the pipeline two years ago. "The 30 people should not have died in vain," said Fai, who contended that the issue cannot be settled by the announced resignation of four Kaohsiung officials, including Deputy Mayor Wu Hong-mo. Two scholars also argued that Chen should step down. Professor Shih Cheng-feng of National Dong Hwa University said bluntly that "it is strange for Mayor Chen not to step down" given the heavy casualties that underscored management problems and complacency in handling the crisis. Shih said the city had more than just a problem with "internal communications" as the mayor indicated, arguing that its "top-down communications also unraveled." "If the people at the top kept a closer watch of their staff, those below them would not have been lax," the professor said. Shih raised several questions, asking, for example, that if the city government "could not pinpoint the cause of the leaks, why not shut down all the pipelines?" and "why did it tell residents it was safer to stay indoors instead of evacuating the whole area in time?" Shih was referring to the hours before the explosions, when Kaohsiung firefighters responded to reports of a suspicious gas smell and sightings of smoke but could not pinpoint its source. Professor Liao Da-chi of National Sun Yat-Shen University said whether Chen should step down to take political responsibility would "hinge on her conscience." Liao said the city government wasted precious time between the sightings of the suspicious smoke and the first explosions on July 31, and did not disperse people and impose traffic controls soon enough. "The smoke had already been sighted for many hours, and there was time to decide whether to evacuate the area," Liao said. Liao also said that Mayor Chen vowed never to allow the pipelines in the affected area to be reburied underground again, but if the petrochemical raw materials can only be transported by trucks, that would only mean more risks. (By Tseng Ying-yu, Claudia Liu, and Lilian Wu)
Advertisement »
HOME |  WORLD |  Politics |  Business |  Sports |  TAIWAN |  Technology |  Health |  Society |  OPINION |  E-Paper
  • Taiwan News  ©  2016 All Rights Reserved.