TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A budget of NT$720,000 (US$24,828) for Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and other city government officials to participate in a one-day cycling event has drawn criticism from a city councilor.
According to the event organizer, Taipei Cycling Association, participants will start biking from Taipei’s Guandu Temple at 1:28 a.m. on Feb. 28 and arrive at Kaohsiung’s Da Yi Junior High School before 11 p.m. the same day, covering a distance of 365.5 kilometers, per Apple Online.
Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) and other city officials will also take part in the challenge, CNA reported.
However, data on the Government e-Procurement System showed Taipei’s Department of Sports in January put up a budget of NT$721,966 and an additional NT$260,000 for extended activities for the Taipei City Government team. The high budget has drawn backlash from Taipei City Councilor Lin Liang-chun (林亮君), who questioned whether the purpose of the activity was to promote cycling or increase the mayor’s exposure.
Department of Sports official Lo Kuo-wei (羅國偉) explained that the NT$720,000 budget will cover the expense of the mayor and other city government officials taking on the challenge, including insurance fees, nanny cars, refreshments, and streaming and marketing costs, per CNA. The number of city government team members has not been finalized but will be capped at 40, Lo said, adding that the lowest estimated cost is NT$620,000.
Lin Chen-yu (林珍羽), deputy spokesperson with the Taipei City Government, said that the activity is held to promote the bicycle industry and not the mayor himself.
The mayor’s Taipei-Kaohsiung bike challenge comes after he successfully completed a 380-kilometer cycling trip, which started from the nation's northernmost point, Fugui Cape Lighthouse, and finished at the southernmost point, Eluanbi Lighthouse, in one day on Feb. 28, 2016.