Taipei mayor grilled on Child-Protection Program 'cancellation'

Taipei mayor grilled on Child-Protection Program 'cancellation'
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, during a visit by British Transport Minister Baroness Susan Kramer Taipei on January 26, 2015.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday went under heavy fire from ruling Kuomintang Taipei City Councilor Chin Huei-chu for the cancellation of Taipei's Child-Protection Program.

In light of the tragic incident at Beitou District Wenhua Elementary School last Friday that resulted in the death of an 8-year-old schoolgirl, Chin took the podium during a Q&A session between the mayor and Taipei City councilors yesterday to press the mayor with questions regarding the cancellation of the city's Child-Protection Program.

Initially, the programme regulated an imposed collaboration between the Taipei City Police Department and city schools.

Chin first asked the mayor if he knows and acknowledges the police professionalism of New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou You-yi, whose police career once made him the Director-General of the National Police Agency (NPA) under the administration of former President Chen Shui-bian.

In response to Chin's inquiry, Ko said that he does recognise the policing capabilities of Hou.

Following the mayor's statement, Chin made a critical comment, saying that Hou on Monday had publicly criticised the city over its cancellation of the programme.

The deputy mayor had said that without the programme, communication between schools and authorities has been severed, hampering authorities' ability to monitor schools and shortening response times in the event of such incidents.

Both Chin and Hou made their comments targeting Ko's decision to remove police support from the said programme, which was a part of the mayor's decision to remove 27 services from the responsibilities of the Taipei police during the later part of March this year.

Cancellation of Program Found with Inconsistencies

Responding to Chin's criticism, Ko said that the initial decision to remove authorities from the programme was backed by the police, including the incumbent NPA director-general.

Ko then said that although it was the police who suggested the removal of support, he will take full responsibility for making a decision on the matter.

However, the mayor also said that he will not resume the programme out of haste, and that he will release further comments after his taskforce completes its investigation of the Beitou school incident within the month.

Following Ko's explanation, Taipei City Police Commissioner Chiu Feng-kuang said that the programme was in actuality a collaborative programme that was operated by the NPA and the Ministry of Education between 2006 to 2012.

As a result of the information, Chin questioned how the mayor was able to remove an expired programme, to which Ko was quoted as saying "When did I give the order to cancel (the programme)? That is why people should read too much newspaper or watch television."

Furious at the mayor's response, Chin blasted Ko, asking whether the mayor had forgotten to take his pills again, and that the session was a farce.

In response to all of Chin's comments, the mayor answered with a simple yes.

Later in the evening, during Q&A with Democratic Progressive Party Councilor Hung Chien-yi, Chiu said that during a special meeting on May 29, the programme was reinstated under Ko's request to reinforce campus security. Chiu said that as such, the mayor never cancelled the programme.

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