Decision on transport card chairman due today: Taipei mayor

Decision on transport card chairman due today: Taipei mayor
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI - Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je stated yesterday that a decision regarding embattled EasyCard Corp.  co-Chairman Tai Chi-chuan would be announced today. EasyCard and the mayor's team came under fire after the company proposed selling card covers bearing the image of Japanese adult film actress Yui Hatano.

In a meeting convened with the city's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus that was joined by Ko, his deputy mayors and the municipal general secretary, DPP Councilor Rosalia Wu) demanded that the mayor admit to any mistakes and apologise if necessary for the incident.

"(The incident) has really put city officials in political danger," Ko was reported to have said when reflecting on the controversy. He is slated to issue a report today in front of the city council. Ko eventually ordered Tai to prepare a debriefing in an attempt to ascertain why the decision for the card covers was initially approved.

Although the plan for the public selling of the card covers was later scrapped and limited to a telephone sale that lasted four hours, Tai and Ko have been widely criticised across the political spectrum for allowing the plan to be floated in the first place. While Tai initially defended the sale saying that the images of Hatano were "healthy," Ko also drew fire for not initially taking issue with EasyCard's decision even though the municipal government is its largest shareholder.

In a city council meeting yesterday, lawmakers from both pan green and blue camps demanded Tai's resignation as co-chairman of the company. Wu said that she hoped the mayor would make the "intelligent decision."

Scorn from the Kuomintang (KMT) is expected to be harsh, as the party has threatened to boycott deliberations over the city's budget unless Tai steps down. Although it is unknown whether the DPP will follow suit, many of its members have voiced their dismay with Tai. Days after EasyCard publicized the Hatano card covers, 15 DPP councilors signed a petition calling for the sales to be halted.

Wu said that attempts for Tai to salvage the situation have backfired. On Sunday, he reversed his previous statements where he said that the idea for the card cover image was circulated by company employees, and admitted that he was responsible for floating the idea.

"I never thought that a card as small as the EasyCard would cause Ko such a political capsizing," Tai said last Friday after admitting to Ko that he had erred in judgment.

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