Kaohsiung fire, public works chiefs resign over deadly fire

10/27/2021 04:41 PM
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CNA photo Oct. 14, 2021
CNA photo Oct. 14, 2021

Taipei, Oct. 27 (CNA) The heads of Kaohsiung's Fire Bureau and Public Works Bureau resigned on Tuesday over a deadly fire in the southern city that claimed 46 lives earlier this month.

The fire at the 40-year-old Cheng Chung Cheng (城中城) building broke out in the early hours of Oct. 14, and eventually engulfed six floors of the 13-story building, killing 46 residents and injuring 43.

Fire Bureau chief Lee Ching-hsiu (李清秀) and Public Works Bureau Director Su Chih-hsun (蘇志勳) had immediately handed in their resignations to Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) after the fire, the city government said in a press statement on Wednesday.

Chen held off on accepting their resignations and told the two officials to focus first on relief efforts and assisting an investigative team tasked with determining whether any city government officials or staff were at fault for the fire, according to the statement.

He only approved of the resignations on Tuesday, after he felt that Lee's and Su's cooperation with the team had "concluded for the time being," the statement said.

The investigative team is scheduled to finish its report on Friday, the statement said.

In response to the bureau chiefs' resignations, Kuomintang (KMT) city councilors held a press conference Wednesday calling for Chen, who is from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to resign as well and take responsibility for the fire.

KMT Kaohsiung city councilors at a press conference. CNA photo Oct. 27, 2021
KMT Kaohsiung city councilors at a press conference. CNA photo Oct. 27, 2021

The fire indicates that many Kaohsiung city bureaus are functionally broken, and it is unacceptable that only two bureau chiefs have resigned over the matter, KMT Councilor Tung Yen-chen (童燕珍) said.

"No responsibility, no budget," Tung said, implying that the KMT, which holds a majority in the city council, will seek to block the city government's budget for next year if Chen refuses to resign.

The DPP caucus of Kaohsiung's city council said in a statement later that day that central and local government officials had reacted quickly and efficiently after the fire, and that they would not shy away from taking responsibility.

The KMT should "stop using tragedy to try to obtain political gains," the DPP said.

(By Tsai Meng-yu and Chiang Yi-ching)

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