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Old November 4th, 2010, 09:21 AM   #81
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MRT Luzhou line to open Nov. 3
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said the trial period for the new line would be longer than it had been for the MRT Wenhu line to avoid similar malfunctions
28 October 2010
Taipei Times

The MRT Luzhou (Lujhou) Line connecting Taipei Countys Lujhou and Sanchong cities with Taipei City will begin operation on Wednesday and passengers on the line will be able to ride for free for 30 days during the one-month trial run, the Taipei City Government announced yesterday.

During the trial service that runs until Dec. 2, passengers who use EasyCards will only be charged if they transfer to other lines.

Compared with the trial services for other MRT lines, which either gave free rides to nearby residents or offered free services for only several hours a day, the new line offers a more generous service, setting off speculation that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin might be using the free trial run to garner support in the upcoming Taipei mayoral election.

Announcing the operation date at Taipei City Hall yesterday, Hau dismissed the speculation and said the city government decided to extend the period of the trial run because the Control Yuan had blamed the malfunctions of the Wenshan-Neihu Line on its short trial run period, which was three days.

Hau said the city also decided to extend the period because the operation of the line should help ease traffic to the Taipei International Flora Expo.

Many of the lines stations are near the expo sites and we encourage all visitors to the expo to take advantage of the line ... The election was not behind our decision, he said.

Construction began on the line in 2002 and it includes 11 stations. According to the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC), more than 200,000 commuters are -expected to use the line each day. It will take about 19 minutes to get from Luzhou (Lujhou) Station to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station and about 21 minutes from Luzhou Station to Taipei Main Station, transfer time not included.

The lines Xingtian Temple and Zhongshan Elementary School stations are within walking distance of the flora expo site in Xinsheng Park.

TRTC general manager Tsai Huei-sheng said annual MRT ridership is expected to reach 500 million next year.

Tsai, meanwhile, apologized for two malfunctions on the Neihu Line and Red Line that occurred yesterday and promised to step up efforts to prevent similar incidents.

Service on the Neihu Line was shut down from 7:44am to 8:41am because of a power transmission box malfunction at Dahu Park Station. The incident was followed by a one-hour shutdown on the Red Line from 8:34am because of a power shortage at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station.

Tsai described the two events as two individual and independent incidents that had not happened before.

The company is looking into the causes of the malfunctions and will examine all MRT lines to avoid similar problems.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 01:38 PM   #82
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Romanian to design 300m tower in Taiwan, second highest in the country


A Romanian will design a 300-meter tower in Taiwan. Architect Dorin Stefan won the contest to design this tower, which might become a new symbol of the city Taichung. The Romanian's design was selected from among 250 sketches filed by architects from 25 countries, according to Antena 3. On the occasion, Stefan also won the 125,000 dollar prize.

The construction will not be the taller on the island. In the Taiwan capital, a building stands at 508 meters, a building called Taipei 101.

The tower will have an observation area, from where tourists will be able to see Taichung, but also Taiwan Strait, which separates China from Taiwan, a restaurant and an office space. Its construction will begin in 2012 and take two years, according to the Taichung administration, which funds the project.
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Old November 8th, 2010, 08:34 AM   #83
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MRT Luzhou Line opens
4 November 2010
Taipei Times
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../04/2003487683

The MRT Luzhou (Lujhou) Line connecting Taipei Countys Lujhou and Sanchong cities with Taipei City began service operations yesterday, attracting a large crowd to take advantage of the free trial service that lasts for one month.

Thousands of passengers rushed to experience the line on the first day of service when it opened at 2pm, crowding especially around Luzhou Station and the two transfer stations on that line Zhongxiao Xinsheng and Minquan W Road stations.

This is the moment weve been waiting for. Finally, residents in Lujhou and Sanchong can enjoy the convenience of the MRT. I am so excited about being able to take the MRT to work now, 30-year-old Sanchong resident Chang Li-fang said after taking a ride from Luzhou to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station.

The one-month free trial run, however, sparked confusion as some passengers complained about having to pay for their rides.

Isnt the service free? My EasyCard was still charged NT$20, said 33-year-old Taipei resident Chiu Yun-hsin, who transferred at Minquan W Road and Zhongxiao Xinsheng stations to reach Zhongxiao Fuxing from Yuanshan Station.

Yang Tai-liang, director of Taipei Rapid Transit Corporations (TRTC) station affairs, said the free service would be limited to the Luzhou line. EasyCard holders who transfer to other lines will be charged for the rest of the ride.

Some passengers also complained about the cramped space at Minquan W Road Station and Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station.

With the special municipality elections drawing closer, the launch ceremony was packed with politicians, with President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Wu Den-yih, joined by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei, using the occasion to endorse Haus municipal performance.

Former premier Yu Shyi-kun of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who once served as chairman of the TRTC, led a group of DPP Taipei City councilors to attend the ceremony.

Ma, a former Taipei mayor, lauded Hau for continuing the citys cooperation with Taipei County that began under his administration to extend the MRT lines and work on other municipal projects.

Yu, on the other hand, slammed the city government for taking nine years to finish construction of the line.

Brushing aside DPP criticism over Haus rushing the operation date and offering the free trial-run to garner support for his re-election, Ma urged all politicians to work together to improve the nation.

Connecting the opening of the line to the Taipei International Flora Expo, which officially opens on Saturday, Hau encouraged visitors to the expo to use the MRT and promised to raise the citys competitiveness.

Construction on the line began in 2002 and it includes 11 stations. It will take about 19 minutes to get from Luzhou to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station and about 21 minutes from Luzhou to Taipei Main Station, transfer time not included.

TRTC general manager Tsai Huei-sheng said more than 200,000 commuters are expected to use the line each day and annual MRT ridership is expected to reach 500 million next year.

Service on the line will be free until Dec. 2, a move that has been criticized by some as a gambit to garner support for Hau in the Nov. 27 election.

Before the lines launch ceremony, about 20 activists from the Losheng Youth Alliance threw mud outside Daqiaotou Station as they protested against construction of the MRT Xinzhuang (Sinjhuang) Lines maintenance depot, which they said had caused cracks to develop at the Losheng Sanatoriums residential buildings.

The group urged the Taipei City Government not to forget about this issue as well as to suspend the construction of the depot until a geographic report is conducted.
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Old November 8th, 2010, 06:49 PM   #84
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City projects must not be for political gain, Su says
By Ko Shu-ling / Staff Reporter
Tue, Nov 09, 2010 - Page 3
Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party candidate for Taipei mayor Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday accused the city government of spending large sums of taxpayers’ money to develop projects that he claimed were for short-term political gain.

Inspecting a much-criticized bicycle lane and other urban development projects on Dunhua N Road and Dunhua S Road, Su said Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) showed good judgment four years ago when he proposed turning the road into Taipei’s version of Paris’ Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

However, what he saw at Victoria Park was litter, dry fountains and broken pavement tiles, Su said. The roots of large trees were sealed with concrete, lighting fixtures for advertisement never worked and the contractor was entangled in a lawsuit with the city government, he said.

The city also spent more than NT$70 million (US$2.32 million) building the bicycle lane, a project that has come under heavy criticism for mixing cyclists with motorized vehicles.

“City projects cannot be used to serve a particular person’s political interests,” he said. “It is a pity that the city spends so much money, but in the end, the safety of residents is undermined [with the result that] the bicycle lane is rarely used.”

Su said the projects were great ideas and, if handled properly, could have created a win-win scenario. In the end, however, the city government and its contractors suffered, and the ultimate victims were residents.

“To do something and do it right, you must have a well-thought-out plan and the ability to deliver. Otherwise, it’s just empty talk,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hau unveiled his green city declaration, urging world leaders to make their best efforts to increase green spaces and build sustainable cities.

Attending the closing ceremony of the Green City International Conference, Hau said in English he hoped the two-day conference and the declaration would motivate governments and municipalities around the world to build green cities.

Hau and participants at the conference called on national and international leaders to ensure that city governments provide healthy and inspiring environments for their residents.

“Investment in green cities is an investment in a healthy population and a healthy economy, with very high financial and social returns,” he said. “To find eco-friendly green solutions for social, economic, climate, financial and technical problems, we are convinced that more cities and municipal governments will benefit from green urban power by exchange of knowledge and best practices, like we did in this green city conference in Taipei.”

At a different setting in the afternoon, Hau said the city would open a Hakka theme park in Gongguan (公館).

Hau made the remarks when attending the launch of a Hakka support group at his campaign headquarters yesterday afternoon.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../09/2003488090
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Old November 10th, 2010, 02:30 PM   #85
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Taipei plans bid to host Asian Games in 2019, Hau says
By Mo Yan-chih / Staff Reporter
Wed, Nov 10, 2010
Taipei Times
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../10/2003488178

The Taipei City Government yesterday said it would apply to host the 18th Asian Games in 2019. The city estimates hosting the event will cost NT$50 billion (US$1.6 billion).

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the city’s successful experience in hosting the 21st Summer Deaflympics last year and improved cross-strait relations should increase Taipei’s chances of hosting the regional sports event.

Deaflympics

“We’ve successfully held the Deaflympics and the changes in cross-strait relations should make it easier for us to win hosting rights for international games,” he told a press conference at the Taipei City Hall.

The 16th Asian Games will open on Friday in Guangzhou, China. A delegation led by Taipei Sports Office Director Sun Ching-chuan (孫清泉) left for the Games yesterday to seek the support of the Asian Games’ committee, who will determine the hosting nation for 2019.

With an estimated budget of NT$50 billion for hosting the Games, Hau said 43 percent of the funds would come from the Sports Affairs Council, another 43 percent from the city’s coffers and the remaining 14 percent from private sponsors.

Infrastructure

Hau said Taipei would work with Taipei County, which will be upgraded and renamed Sinbei City on Dec. 25, to establish sports facilities and infrastructure that would span the two cities.

If Taipei wins the hosting rights, Su said the city government would turn Guandu Sports Park into the main stadium for the Games and set up five more, including Neihu (內湖) in Taipei City and Linkou (林口) in Taipei County.
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Old November 14th, 2010, 05:20 AM   #86
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Taiwan to attract NT$200 bil. for land development
13 November 2010
The China Post

The China Post news staff -- Taiwan is expected to solicit NT$200 billion worth of capital from local and foreign investors to develop public land parcels, said officials attending a business solicitation conference held yesterday.

Among the land blocks that the central and local governments intend to ask private companies to develop are the A15, A18 and A20 blocks in Taipei's premier Xinyi District, as well as several blocks in the central city of Taichung.

According to Fan Liang-hsiu, chairman of the Public Construction Commission (PCC), Taiwan has already secured NT$216.5 billion for public land development by private firms, and an additional NT$200 billion is expected to add on top of that after the government's business solicitation efforts.

One of the VIPs at the conference was Vice President Vincent Siew, who noted that public infrastructure needs to be upgraded and overhauled continually, as a country's economy booms.

He cited consumption, investment and exports are three major gauges measuring a country's gross domestic product. Citing data PCC commissioned outside firms to compile, Siew said every NT$10 billion invested in public construction will push up economic growth by 0.08 percent.

The most watched cases in this round of business solicitation are the A15, A18 and A20 developmental cases. These three blocks are near Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC) Exhibition Hall Two.

According to Chiu Ta-chan, finance director of Taipei City Government, the blocks total 5,357 pings and are in the center of Xinyi District, in close proximity to MRT Taipei City Hall Station as well as the future TWTC Station of the red Xinyi Line. The bidding process will begin in March 2011, he said. Each ping is 3.3 square meters.

He also cited another parcel in Xinyi District, the A25 measuring 6,000 pings. Bidding for it will begin on June next year, and a pre-bidding briefing will be held in May 2011.

Taichung City Government also took part in the conference yesterday and spoke on the land block near Station Eight of the future Taichung MRT. The block is expected to attract investment exceeding NT$10 billion, the city said.

Among interested investors attending yesterday's event were Farglory, Ruentex, the American Chamber of Commerce and the European Chamber of Commerce.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 05:01 PM   #87
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Construction begins on Songshan cultural park
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../13/2003488417
By Mo Yan-chih / Staff Reporter
Sat, Nov 13, 2010
Taipei Times

Despite ongoing opposition from environmentalists, construction began yesterday on a cultural park project, which aims to turn the abandoned Songshan Tobacco Factory area into a 14-story building that includes a hotel, theater and offices for the cultural industry.

The cultural park, located on the intersection of Guangfu S Road and Civil Boulevard, is part of the Taipei City Government’s plan to revitalize and reuse the abandoned factory. The contract for the park, which occupies 7.2 hectares, was awarded to Fubon Land -Development and the Eslite Group for NT$1.3 billion (US$42 million), and the park is scheduled to begin operations in 2013.

Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs budgeted more than NT$480 million to preserve some of the historical buildings at the old factory and the preserved buildings will be used as exhibition rooms, according to department commissioner Hsieh Hsiao-yun (謝小韞).

At the ground-breaking ceremony for the project, Fubon Financial chairman Daniel Tsai (蔡明忠) dismissed concern about the long-stalled Taipei Dome Complex project — which occupies a large portion of the factory area and is located at the intersection of Guangfu S Road and Zhongxiao E Road — and said the company will work with Eslite Group to turn the area into a new cultural and recreational landmark for the city.

Former Taipei City Cultural Department commissioner Lee Yong-ping (李永萍), who played a major role in pushing for the construction project, defended the city government’s efforts to preserve the old factory.

“Three years from now, the park will showcase the strength of Taiwan’s cultural industry, while becoming a great place for Taipei residents to relax,” she said.

Local residents and environmentalists have been -protesting against the establishment of the park and the Taipei Dome, which was contracted to Farglory Group, and said the complex would damage the environment, while making a profit for the conglomerates.

The entire complex will occupy about 18 hectares in the bustling Xinyi District (信義) and includes an indoor stadium, hotels, department stores, a shopping center and office buildings.

Taipei City’s environmental assessment committee revoked Farglory Group’s proposal in June, making it difficult for the construction of the proposed dome to begin.

The Songshan Tobacco Factory was built in 1937 under Japanese colonial rule. It was designated an historical monument by the Taipei City Government in 2001.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 08:09 AM   #88
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Fubon Life signs hotel deal for new Xinyi project
18 November 2010
Taipei Times

Fubon Life Insurance Co, a subsidiary of Fubon Financial Holding Co, yesterday signed a lease agreement with My Humble House Group to turn part of a land development project into hotel floors.

The project is a shopping and hotel complex sitting on a 1,928 ping (6,373m2) plot of land in Xinyi District, for which the insurer won a 50-year surface rights lease from the government in October 2008 for a NT$3.68 billion (US$119.41 million) premium.

HOTEL PLANS

The hotel lease is expected to generate a 4 percent return on the insurers real estate investment, Fubon Financial president Victor Kung said by telephone.

The complex will feature 22 floors above ground and five stories underground, with 14,000 ping in total floor space, the financial service provider said.

The hotel will occupy the fourth floor of the building and above, with Momo Department Store (Momo), an affiliate of the Fubon group, occupying the rest of the space, the company said.

My Humble House Group, which runs the Sheraton Taipei Hotel and Le Meridian Taipei, plans to create a hotel under its own brand after the construction is completed in 2013, Fubon Financial said.

INCREASED PRESENCE

The new hotel will include 250 rooms, conference space, restaurants and fitness facilities, in line with My Humble House Groups intention to strengthen its presence in the hospitality industry, Fubon Financial said.

However, it refused to comment on earlier reports of a partnership with Formosa International Hotels Corp, the nations biggest listed hotel operator.

Richard Tsai, chairman of Fubon Life Insurance, expressed confidence the deal with My Humble House would create a win-win situation for both parties all members of the Tsai clan, one of Taiwans richest families.

REAL ESTATE GOALS

Richard Tsai said the land development project was in line with the insurers plan to increase real estate investment and Fubon Life will keep hunting for real estate investment projects to better utilize idle funds.

The insurer reportedly lost the bid in August for a 10-story building housing Chinfon Commercial Banks former Taipei headquarters to Taiwan Insurance Co.

Fubon Financial shares fell 1.2 percent to NT$37.05 at the close of trade yesterday, underperforming the TAIEXs 0.68 percent drop, Taiwan Stock Exchange figures showed.
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Old November 20th, 2010, 05:01 PM   #89
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TIA toilet costs questioned
18 November 2010
Taipei Times
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../18/2003488820

The legislatiures Transportation Committee yesterday criticized Taoyuan International Airport (TIA) Corp, as the lawmakers accused the company of inflating the budget for the airports restroom renovation project.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yeh Yi-jin questioned the companys plan to spend NT$300 million (NT$10 million) to remodel the restrooms at the airport. She said TIA claimed that the construction cost for 1 ping (3.30m2) would be NT$72,000.

Yeh said Zihnan Temple in Nantou County spent NT$33 million to build its restrooms.

The restrooms are equipped with deodorizing equipment, nurseries and facilities for disabled passengers. Some called it a seven-star bathroom, Yeh said. Each ping only cost NT$20,000.

Following Yehs criticism, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsai Chin-lung questioned TIAs ability to execute projects as the company said they would spend three years completing the renovation project. He asked TIA to consider shortening the time to one-and-a-half years.

In response, TIA president Samuel Lin said the government had amended regulations governing the ratio of mens to womens facilities. The airport, which has been in operation for more than 20 years, needs to follow the new regulations.

To renovate the restrooms, Lin said workers need to change the pipelines, relocate some of the stores and redo the interior design. When deducting the costs for relocation, the actual construction cost for 1 ping was NT$31,600, he said.

Aside from the questions on the renovation, KMT Legislator Chen Ken-de said the airport company will submit a comprehensive financial report detailing how it planned to raise the capital.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 04:16 PM   #90
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Doubts raised over use of limited public housing
16 November 2010
Taipei Times
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/.../16/2003488606

The plan to build more public housing will not help rein in soaring residential real estate prices or cool the property market due to its small supply and rent restrictions, real estate analysts said yesterday.

The Ministry of the Interior yesterday announced five sites in the Greater Taipei area where it will construct 1,661 units of public housing that will be leased to economically disadvantaged people when completed.

Stanley Su, senior researcher at Sinyi Realty, said the public housing will not have an impact on the housing market given its limited supply.

The 1,661 public housing units account for only 4 percent of overall new apartments in the Great Taipei Area that has seen an average of 42,000 new units a year over the last three years, Su said. The supply is too small to affect the market.

The fact that only qualified people can apply to rent the public housing makes it more unlikely that it will replace permanent home ownership, Su said.

Chinese-language Housing Monthly spokesman Ni Tzu-jen said the construction of public housing, due to start at the end of next year, will take an extra one to two years to complete and may not make a splash in the rental market.

Rental rates in Taipei City and Taipei County have been steady in recent years and landlords may seek to attract tenants through management enhancements or offer of more competitive terms, Ni said.

If the government is serious about allaying fears over increasingly unaffordable housing costs, it needs to build much more public housing, Ni said.

There is still a plenty of government-owned land for public housing in Chungho, Lujhou, Linkou and Sinjhuang in Taipei County, Ni said. It is true that owning a house has become untenable in Taipei City for most salaried people.

Chang Chin-oh, a land economics professor at Chengchih University, said public housing will prove little more than a political gesture during election season to win votes, judging from the tiny supply.

The small number of units [of public housing] is out of proportion with the number of people who cant afford to buy their own house, Chang said. Their completion two years from now will be too late to reverse the price hikes.

Chang said a property transaction tax and other measures would be more effective in stemming real estate speculation and averting housing bubbles.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 11:39 AM   #91
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Taipei-Yilan line still being assessed: minister
By Shelley Shan
16 November 2010
Taipei Times

Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo yesterday denied reports that the ministry was building a direct railway connecting Taipei and Yilan, saying it was far too early to talk about.

[The Railway Reconstruction Bureau] is evaluating the feasibility of the project and must submit the results of its evaluations to the ministry for approval, he said. We have yet to see those results.

Although the project was rejected by the Environmental Protection Administrations (EPA) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee four years ago, Mao said the committee ruled that the ministry could propose an alternative route.

The ministry was evaluating all the options and any speculation beyond this point was unnecessary, he said.

Mao was scheduled to brief the legislatures Transportation Committee about the ministrys budget plan for the next fiscal year, but the railway project became the focus at the question-and-answer session, which was sparked by a story in the Chinese-language China Times yesterday that said the ministry had resurrected the project.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin asked Mao if the ministry was using the same tactics for this project it used to secure the EIA committees approval for the Suhua Highway improvement project, which obtained conditional approval earlier this month.

You leak it [the news] to the media and then seek support from local residents, Yeh said. Then you pressure the environmental protection groups to accept your proposal, making it easier to have the plan passed at the EIA committee.

Mao said the Suhua project was finalized after the ministry spent a year communicating with the residents of Hualien and secured consensus among all the parties involved.

The bureau first proposed the direct-line project in 2006. The rail link was designed to reduce travel time from 90 minutes to 36 minutes.

The committee, however, turned down the project on the grounds that the proposed route would pass through a water source quality protection area on Beishih River. The committee also turned down the bureaus plan to construct a long tunnel on the route, which would pass through the same geological fracture zone as the Hsuehshan Tunnel.

Bureau director-general Jack Hsu said it was reviewing a series of possibilities, including making improvements to the North-Link railway line and that a final decision had yet to be made.

However, Hsu said that improving the North-Link Line would only decrease the travel time by seven minutes, with construction costs reaching NT$28 billion (US$921 million). The time needed to complete the construction would be seven years, he said.

The bureau was also considering a new route that bypasses the water source quality protection zone, Hsu said, adding that rather than building one long tunnel, the bureau was considering building several shorter tunnels.

The latter plan, which would shorten travel time by 30 minutes, would take about 10 years to complete and cost about NT$50 billion, he said.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 09:31 AM   #92
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2010 ELECTIONS: Hau reiterates his support of disputed public housing plan
Taipei Times
Tue, Nov 23, 2010
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../23/2003489226

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) on Sunday once again brought up the issue of building a “Little Treasure Palace” public housing complex in the heart of Taipei, a proposal that has not received the approval of Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).

“Little Treasure Palace” is the nickname people have given to a plan proposed by Hau last month to build social housing for disadvantaged families and individuals using a plot of land currently housing the Air Force Headquarters on Renai Road.

The nickname stems from the fact that the plot of land is located in an area where real estate prices are very high and is very close to the Treasure Palace luxury hotel complex.

Immediately after Hau announced the plan last month, central government officials voiced opposition, whereupon the Ministry of the Interior selected five other plots of land in Taipei city and county for construction of public housing.

However, Hau reaffirmed his support for the “Little Treasure Palace” plan during a televised campaign agenda announcement on Sunday night.

Asked to comment on Hau’s announcement after a legislative meeting yesterday morning, -Jiang did not directly turn it down, but his lack of enthusiasm was obvious.

“We fully respect local governments’ plans for social housing, but I don’t think the Taipei City Government considers [the Little Treasure Palace plan] a short-term plan to be accomplished anytime soon,” Jiang said. “If it’s a long-term project, then I don’t think it conflicts with the central government’s plan to build five social housing projects at the locations previously announced.”

Jiang said the Air Force Headquarters occupies a large surface area and is not well suited to build public housing.

“The five locations we’ve chosen so far are smaller plots of land outside the city center, but with very convenient transportation,” he said. “I think it’s easier to build social housing projects at such locations.”
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Old November 27th, 2010, 05:16 AM   #93
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2010 ELECTIONS: Cabinet approves urban revival plan
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../26/2003489475
Taipei Times
By Shih Hsiu-chuan / Staff Reporter
Fri, Nov 26, 2010

The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a proposal to invest NT$18.4 billion (US$605.6 million) over four years in an urban renewal program that officials claim will boost the nation’s economic growth rate by 0.12 percent a year and create 40,000 jobs.

The Ministry of the Interior presented the proposal at the weekly Cabinet meeting, denying that the timing of the plan had anything to do with tomorrow’s special municipality elections.

During the meeting, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) touted the program as a way to improve quality of life and to protect the environment.

The country has 3.02 million households living in buildings more than 30 years old and 700,000 families living in buildings built 20 to 29 years ago, officials said.

The policy will see the government provide incentives to residents of older buildings so they can rebuild or renovate their homes.

Rebuilding or renovating older buildings would spur private sector investment in the real-estate market, generating an output value of more than NT$7 trillion, the government estimates.

Construction and Planning Agency Director Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) told a press conference after the Cabinet meeting that the program would create huge business opportunities not only for the construction industry, but also the furniture and interior design industries.

The ministry will also develop concrete measures to encourage eco-friendly and barrier-free buildings and enhance the anti-seismic capability of the buildings, Yeh said.

At a press conference later in the day, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) denied the announcement of the plan was aimed at improving the chances of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidates tomorrow.

“The government’s policymaking process is a continuous one that does not take elections into consideration,” Chien said.

“We didn’t begin to research this policy over the past few days, we’ve worked on it for a long time,” Chien said. “It’s just coincidental that we’ve completed it in these past few days.”
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 09:17 AM   #94
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Hau forges ahead with housing plan
Fri, Dec 03, 2010
Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday promised to carry out his campaign promises in his second term by building public housing units and urban renewal projects that will make Taipei a more affordable and beautiful city.

Hau won re-election in last Saturday’s special municipality elections and will be sworn in on Dec. 25.

Discussing his plans for the second term with the press, Hau promised to make good on all his campaign promises, prioritizing the efforts in building affordable public housing units downtown for young people and disadvantaged families.

“We are trying to change the perception of public housing that it is always of poor quality ... The public housing units in Taipei will offer a high-quality living environment for residents,” he said.

The Hau administration’s plan to build rental apartments in one of the city’s most expensive areas, on the intersection of Renai Road and Jianguo S Road, sparked disputes and the Cabinet has shown little support for the project, saying that the plan had not been agreed upon and that the location in Da-an (大安) District was inappropriate.

Hau said he would boost efforts to publicize municipal policies so that Taipei residents would have a better understanding of his administration’s dedication.

“We didn’t do a good job promoting our municipal projects before and the public’s lack of understanding made it difficult for us to push the projects. We will enhance our communication efforts the future,” he said.

When asked about a possible reshuffle of his team, Hau said he would make an announcement before Dec. 25, declining to say if former deputy mayor Lee Yong-ping (李永萍) would be reappointed.

Lee resigned on Sept. 13 amid the controversy over the Xinsheng Overpass reconstruction project, in which the city was overcharged for construction materials.

Hau will also have to find a replacement for Taipei Deputy Mayor Lin Chien-yuan (林建元), who is returning to academia.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Luo Shiaw-shyan (羅孝賢) and the head of the Department of Urban Development, Ding Yuh-chyurn (丁育群), are also rumored to be leaving their posts.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 09:10 PM   #95
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Old December 16th, 2010, 12:29 PM   #96
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Taipei officials resign en masse ahead of handover
15 December 2010
Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin yesterday accepted the group resignation of top-level officials as is the convention prior to an official handover ceremony and promised to make urban renewal, transportation development and river dredging work top priorities during his second term.

The city governments 25 department heads, led by Taipei Deputy Mayor Lin Chien-yuan, tendered their resignations in accordance with the Local Governance Act, which requires appointed local government officials to resign by Dec. 24. The new municipal team will assume office the following day.

Lin and several other officials, including Department of Transportation Commissioner Luo Shiaw-shyan, Department of Environmental Protection Director Ni Shih-piao and Department of Social Welfare Affairs Commissioner Shih Yu-ling, are not expected to keep their positions.

The election of Mayor Hau is a public endorsement of this dedicated team. We are the most capable municipal team in the country and I encourage those who are staying on to share their experiences with other cities and make Taipei a better place to live, Lin said.

Accepting the resignations, the mayor defended the teams crisis management abilities on major municipal projects, including the Maokong Gondola, the MRTs Wenshan-Neihu Line and the Taipei International Flora Expo.

Weve faced crises in the past, but thanks to your dedication and hard work, we solved the problems and won the recognition of the public. Municipal development is continuous work and we will make even greater achievements in the next four years, Hau said.

He declined to discuss the upcoming reshuffle of his team, but promised to reveal the list of new officials when it has been finalized.

Hau said urban renewal projects would be a top priority of his new team during the next four years. Besides improving the citys landscape, the mayor also promised to work with Sinbei City mayor-elect Eric Chu on the dredging of the Tamsui River and on MRT construction.

Therell be a lot of cooperation between Taipei City and Sinbei City. Mayor Chu and I will carry out our campaign promises and join forces to turn the two cities into one great living metropolis, he said.

The mayor shrugged off concerns about the impact of the creation of four new special municipalities on Taipeis finances, saying the central government has promised to increase the citys annual budget.
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Old December 18th, 2010, 09:05 PM   #97
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Ma praises Chou Hsi-wei for work in Taipei County
Taipei Times
Sun, Dec 19, 2010

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday gave a ringing endorsement of outgoing Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), applauding Chou for launching river dredging projects, among other achievements, marking the end of the commissioner’s four-year term in office.

Chou will step down as on Dec. 25 with the upgrade and renaming of Taipei County Sinbei City. Mayor-elect Eric Chu (朱立倫) will take over Chou’s position on the same day.

Ma yesterday accompanied Chou on an inspection tour of major municipal projects, including improvement work to the Jhonggang drainage system in Sinjhuang City (新莊) and artificial wetlands in Banciao (板橋). He also attended a Christmas party hosted by the county government in the evening.

“When Commissioner Chou promised to dredge the rivers and create a recreational area along the riverside five years ago, I thought it was nothing but election sloganeering. I am impressed that he carried out his campaign promises,” Ma said in Sinjhuang.

The dredging of the Tamsui River (淡水河) and upgrading of sewage systems in the county was one of Chou’s major campaign promises. His successor Chu has also vowed to continue this works and improve the county’s competitiveness after it is upgraded as Sinbei City.

Chou thanked the president for his public endorsement, and Ma gave him a big hug as a gesture of support.

Chou, 52, gave up his re--election bid in February as his low approval ratings forced Ma and the party to endorse Chu as the party candidate.

Chou won the Taipei County Commissioner election over Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate Lo Wen-jia (羅文嘉) by a large margin in 2005. However, he has consistently suffered from a low approval rating for what has been perceived as a lackluster performance during his time in office.

There has been speculation that Chou only agreed to withdraw from the Sinbei race in exchange for a position in the Cabinet or Presidential Office.

The commissioner denied speculation that Ma, who also doubles as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, may arrange a cushy party position for Chou after he steps down.

“Frankly, I have no plans for the future yet, and there’s no special arrangements waiting for me,” he said.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 05:15 PM   #98
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Property market still lucrative, experts say
By Crystal Hsu / STAFF REPORTER
Mon, Dec 20, 2010

Recent hikes in assessed land values in the Greater Taipei area may not discourage real-estate speculation because the significant gap between government-assessed values and market prices still makes the property market a lucrative investment, experts said.

Earlier this month, Taipei City and Taipei County, which account for half of the nation’s housing transactions, raised their assessed land value by 15.33 percent and 12.08 percent, respectively, marking the biggest increases in almost two decades.

The revisions, effective next year, will subject real-estate properties to higher land value -increment levies on ownership transfers, but may not impose unbearable costs on real-estate investments, said Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), land economics professor at National Cheng-chih University.

The current assessed land value still lags behind the market price by between 30 percent and 50 percent, depending on the location, which makes the actual tax increase tolerable, said Chang, a vocal advocate of implementing drastic tightening measures to cool the property sector.

“The government can fix the issue by requiring real-estate agencies to declare the real prices on all transactions, thus making property transfers more transparent and accountable,” Chang said by telephone.

The academic said housing prices nationwide have jumped in recent years, but some record deals reported in the press have been exaggerated.

A recent survey by the Chinese-language Housing Monthly (住展雜誌) shows home prices gained 30 percent and 17.6 percent in Taipei County and Taipei City respectively over the last three years.

Housing values in Sinjhuang (新莊) top other areas at 78 percent, thanks to re-zoning ordinances and the extension of the mass rapid transit system, said Ni Tzu-jen (倪子仁), spokesman for the magazine.

Chang said construction firms and real-estate agencies tend to boast to promote sales, and the lack of transparency leaves homebuyers vulnerable to the hype.

The Ministry of Interior, which has control over land use, could help level the field by requiring details for each property deal, Chang said.

Chuang Meng-han (莊孟翰), a professor of industrial economics at Tamkang University, said the central bank could also help by tightening land and construction loans.

The bank should take further steps to check housing prices at its policy meeting later this month now that the selective credit control in June has proved futile, Chuang said by telephone.

Sharp competition last week for a 50-year lease to develop a -government plot of land near Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) showed the housing fever spreading to surface rights contests, Chuang said.

Chuang linked central bank inaction in September to political concerns ahead of the special municipality elections.

“The concern is no longer warranted after the elections left the landscape unchanged in November,” he said.

The Ministry of Finance can also lend a helping hand by imposing heavy taxes on short-term home transfers in both pre-sale and second-hand markets, Chuang said, adding that most ordinary people could not afford short-term transfers.

Published on Taipei Times :
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/.../20/2003491381
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Old December 26th, 2010, 09:02 PM   #99
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New Cities, New Paths: Hau Lung-bin pledges to rejuvenate capital city
Taipei Times
By Mo Yan-chih / Staff Reporter
Sun, Dec 26, 2010

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday vowed to rejuvenate the city with urban renewal projects, municipal developments and better public service in the next four years as he was sworn in in a ceremony that marked the beginning of his second term.

Taking the official seal from Vice Premier Sean Chen at Taipei City Hall, the mayor pledged to focus his second term on policies that will turn Taipei into a younger and more energetic city, including offering childbirth subsidies, zero-interest loans for startup businesses and overseas studies and affordable rental housing units.

“Taipei is a great city, but not young enough ... The policies are aimed at attracting younger people to work and live in Taipei ... I will be the mayor of all citizens and increase the city’s international competitiveness,” Hau of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said.

In his inauguration speech, Hau promised to enhance communication with the public and make more efforts to explain municipal policies to the people.

“Communication is the most important thing I’ve learned in the past months during the election campaign. I will communicate with the public more and carry out my campaign promises,” he said.

The city government will also include issues raised by the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who lost to Hau in the Nov. 27 mayoral election, such as planting more trees and building green boulevards in the city, in discussions for municipal developments, Hau said.

For his second term, Hau promised to complete the road surface improvement project that will make 675 major roads in the city more even and push further for the 1999 Taipei Citizen Hotline to offer 24-hour service to residents.

He said he would also work closely with New Taipei City (新北市, the proposed English name of the upgraded Taipei County) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) over the next four years to turn the banks along the Tamsui River (淡水河) into recreational areas and build more MRT lines connecting the two municipalities.

The 37 members of new administrative team in Taipei City were also sworn in. Representing outgoing officials in a farewell speech, former Taipei deputy mayor Lin Chien-yuan (林建元) urged all administrative officials to be able to handle criticisms while focusing the efforts on municipal developments.

“The architect who designed the pavilions at the Taipei International Flora Expo won top awards after being criticized by the press. All officials should be able to take criticisms,” he said.

About 200 guests attended the ceremony yesterday, including former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) as well as foreign dignitaries.
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Old December 31st, 2010, 04:10 AM   #100
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Legislators pan proposed judicial park
30 December 2010
Taipei Times

A plan to turn an enormous area occupied by the air force in central Taipei into a lavish judicial park, including up to six courthouses, has drawn questions from lawmakers concerned about the scope and cost of the project.

Judicial Yuan President Rai Hau-min said on Tuesday he hoped to see the consolidation of several courts and office buildings onto the 7 hectare site, across the road from The Palace, one of Taipeis most expensive residential developments.

In the legislature yesterday, lawmakers across party lines said the move would cost billions of NT dollars and called it a distraction from the more pressing issue of judicial reform, one of Rais key promises after being nominated by President Ma Ying-jeou to head the nations judiciary in August.

President Ma is probably thinking at this point that he found the wrong person, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi said. Judicial reform starts with changing people ... not by building a grand house.

The Judicial Yuan, which has since released detailed plans of its proposal, did not say how much it expected the building to cost or how it would be funded. It plans for 261,000m2 of floor space and to move at least six different courts into the area alongside the Judicial Yuan headquarters.

The proposal includes the establishment of an international conference hall, restaurants, parking lots and a library. The Supreme Court and the Taiwan High Court, as well as local district courts in Taipei, would be part of the complex.

President Rai hopes we can trade all the land used by judicial agencies in Taipei City for land underneath air force command headquarters to create a Judicial Park, the Judicial Yuan said in a statement.

Rai told the Chinese-language China Times he expected to personally hand the request to Ma, although he did not give a specific deadline. Reports quoted Rai as saying that a decision would be a test for Ma on his level of commitment to judicial reform.

Those remarks attracted strong words from KMT Legislator Alex Fai, who said Rai owed the public an apology for tying the two issues and threatening the president with it. Although Rais nomination was approved by a majority of KMT lawmakers in October, Fai said he was starting to regret casting his support.

The DPP caucus also expressed strong opposition, with lawmaker Lee Chun-yee calling Rai an ancient fossil for releasing the proposal in defiance of widespread disapproval. He said it was dangerous for the head of the judiciary to be so out of touch with public opinion.

The land, one of the last large plots set for redevelopment in the heart of Taipei, could cost tens of billions of NT dollars if sold on the private market. It is set to be vacated next year after the air force command headquarters moves to a new building in the citys Neihu District.

Although zoned for military use, potential developers have eyed the plot for years, aiming to turn it into a residential, commercial or government development.

During his election campaign, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said he hoped the grounds would be turned into subsidized housing, nicknamed the Little Palace, for disadvantaged groups and young people, citing its convenient location.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng has also said part of the land could be used as a new location for the legislature, which is currently located in a building built by the Japanese prior to World War II.

Officials from the Ministry of Finance, which currently holds rights to the land through the National Property Administration, have yet to say which proposal they favored.
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