Lunch with the Taipei City Government
The annual round table lunch between the ECCT and the Taipei City Government (TCG) was held for the 19th consecutive year. As in previous years, the event provided an exclusive opportunity for ECCT members to discuss issues of concern or mutual interest with guest of honour Mayor Ko Wen-je and a full delegation of senior TCG cabinet officials, who were in attendance at different tables so that they could interact with members. The lunch featured opening remarks by ECCT Chairman Hakan Cervell and Mayor Ko, which was followed by a presentation on the forthcoming 2017 Universiade (university Olympiad or games). After the presentation Mayor Ko answered questions from the audience in a Q&A session moderated by the ECCT's Better Living committee Co-chair, Tim Berge.
In his remarks at the lunch Mayor Ko asked what the city government could do for members to make living and working in Taipei better. Following up on his promise at last year's lunch to set up a single contact window to receive and address ECCT issues, he introduced the staffer in charge of the single contact window, Ms Meng Hsu-hua, Senior Specialist in the TCG Secretariat. He invited ECCT members to contact Ms Meng to discuss any issues related to doing business or living in Taipei. After the mayor remarks, You Shih-ming, Deputy CEO of the Taipei World Universiade Organising Committee gave an update on the games.
The 2017 Olympiad will be held for the 19th time in Taiwan from 19-30 August 2017, although athletes are expected to start arriving earlier than this. Over 10,000 athletes from universities in 146 cities are expected to participate in 21 types of sports.
Two new venues (for tennis and basketball) have been constructed from scratch while another 78 have been refurbished for the purpose of the games, 38 for competition purposes and another 40 for training. While most of the venues are in Taipei City, some events will be held in New Taipei and Hsinchu.
You said that the soccer facility had been recognised as meeting global standards by the international football association (FIFA) while the tennis centre, which has 16 courts, has also met international standards and could be used for future Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournaments. He added that the basketball facility is an eco-friendly design incorporating features such as a water collection system.
The city plans to recruit 18,000 volunteers to help with running the games. Tickets for the opening ceremony will range from NT$1,000 to NT$10,000 (for VIP seats). Tickets for other events will be NT$300. All venues will have free first aid services and 39 hospitals (with at least one in close proximity to each venue) have been designated to deal with medical emergencies. Anti-terrorism drills will be held prior to the games. A dining hall with seating for 3,500 has been built that will serve the full range of dietary and religious requirements, as well as local favourites. A number of travel itineraries have been created for athletes and other visitors to coincide with the games.
In a frank and open Q&A session, the mayor answered a number of questions from the moderator and ECCT members present at the lunch. On the subject of illegal driving on pavements, Mayor Ko said he believed the situation had improved following an increase in enforcement and fines for traffic violations in the city. He added that he will look into ways to educate the public on which parts of the roads were reserved for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians, respectively.
Mayor Ko said he supported the trend towards the shared economy and believed that the government should not stand in the way of business models that support the shared economy. He added that the government wants to build on the success of U-bike by setting up a U-car (car sharing scheme) in the city. He said he hoped that this could be done by the end of the year.
On the subject of urban renewal, the mayor said that he is in the process of overhauling policies to facilitate the speeding up of urban renewal projects. Regarding new development projects, the mayor said that the focus in future would be on urban renewal rather than new developments. He said that this was because Taipei's population is not likely to increase in future and that residents are more concerned about protecting the environment than in the past.
Besides Mayor Ko the following TCG officials attended the lunch:
You Shih-ming, Deputy CEO, Taipei World Universiade Organising Committee & Deputy Commissioner, Department of Finance
Meng Hsu-hua, Senior Specialist, Secretariat
Tiger Chen, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Transportation
Chen Ywa-wei, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Rapid Transit Systems
Hsu Li-min, Commissioner, Department of Social Welfare
Dr Huang Shier-chieg, Commissioner, Department of Health
Chang Yu-huei, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Public Works
Huang Sheng-jean, Superintendent, Taipei City Hospital