9/24/2010

2010 Taipei International Flora Exhibition


I took this dark picture last Tuesday just outside of the Yuanshan MRT station in Taipei on my iPhone. This construction zone will be a part of the grounds for the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exhibition. People are complaining about this because of the price tag: I’ve heard it's NT$10 billion. These individuals are dissatisfied because they don’t know what they’ll get back from it and there have been scandals. I’m guessing it’s the same lot as those who whined about last year’s Deaflympics: NT$9.5 billion. And many others.

I wonder how much has to be spent or wasted before one of these kinds of extravaganzas gets labeled a failure. Some pretty cool infrastructure was left behind for the Deaflympics, like a stadium and an almost Olympic-sized swimming pool (see my previous post – I’ve put a pic up there). The Flora Exhibition is going to leave behind the Eco Ark, a three-story building made out of recycled plastic bottles. That's about it.

There are also some aspects of the Flora Exhibition that confuse me. Look at the picture at the top of this post. We’re building a park, but right on top of a park. As the old park was perfectly fine, nothing’s getting improved here. Furthermore, the Eco Ark is placed over another park, one that was built just 15 years ago. Why do we have to put it on top of a park and how is that an improvement to Taipei? Why not on a gas station, an old ugly building, etc.? And do you notice the blue-fence corridor for pedestrians to walk through? That used to be a street. I asked the guards who were keeping people out of the park that we could once use freely if the city was going to reinstate the street after the Flora Exhibition. They told me they’d heard that this was likely. I’m betting that this happens. Streets and places for traffic do not trump parks.

I’m still going to say that I think if Taipei does tear up the west end of the park for cars after the Flora Exhibition, it’s a huge waste of time and money. Plus it’s kind of dishonest; we’ll be giving visitors an untrue picture of our city. My final points are for the mayor. You say we’ll make NT$16.8 billion in tourism off this NT$10 billion flower show? Where are you getting this amount? Are you simply counting any visitor that buys a ticket? If so, remember this: There are better reasons to visit Taiwan than to see some flowers, see Toroko Gorge, Hualien, the Pescadores, the National Palace Museum and Monga. See the night markets, shopping, Taipei 101. If you’re counting tickets bought by “foreigners,” you should remember that if they weren’t spending NT$3,000 on your flower show, they probably would’ve been dropping it eating in restaurants, getting out to see the country and putting that money somewhere else.  

7 comments:

dennis said...

i think so far the taipei government has pre-purchased more than half the total tickets sold. so it'd spent ppl's tax money to create the exhibition then used the same money to buy the tickets so Hao can later say "see i'd told you we would sell this many tickets!".
bravo

Patrick Cowsill said...

Dennis,

That doesn't surprise me about the tickets. Mayor Hao is probably on his way out after the upcoming election. The opposition is now focusing on shenanigans such as the Flora Exhibition.

Okami said...

The problem with these large international events and why they are no longer held in the west, is that these large infrastructure improvements like stadiums are often barely used afterwards, but still require upkeep that could be better used for other areas within their cities.

Then there is the ever present graft that goes with them and the trampling of property rights. Finally you have the opportunity cost of the money. Tax money is not free and could often be used for better things then some politicians wet dreams of city grandeur. Then there is the trick where they ignore upkeep in future budgets causing previously world class installations to rot.

Klaus said...

I recently had sneak peek at the Expo grounds and will post some pictures soon. I think that, once the dust has settled and the controversy is over, there will be some lasting improvements for the Yuanshan area. Costly as they may be.

Not the Eco Ark though, that's private property and will be put up somewhere else after the Flora Expo.

Do you mean the street that used to run E-W parallel and directly beside to the former football stadium? That is gone. I would not bet on it coming back, there are some pretty massive structures now where it used to be.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Do you mean the street that used to run E-W parallel and directly beside to the former football stadium? That is gone." I hope so, but have a feeling it comes back. I don't see any structures.

You really think there have been improvements? LIke what?

I find the stuff going up around the Yuanshan MRT Station hideous, like those light purple and green ceilings or awnings. They're an eyesore; I can't wait until they're covered in pollution and grime so we won't have to look at that color combination. Or how how about the stainless steel tube walls?

Klaus said...

Hi Patrick,

my five cents on the Expo grounds are now online here:

http://taipeh.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/sneak-peek-at-the-taipei-flora-expo-grounds/

Had a possibility to visit about two weeks ago, and took some pictures.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"The Flora Exhibition is going to leave behind the Eco Ark, a three-story building made out of recycled plastic bottles. That's about it."

I've heard that the Eco Ark will be dismantled and transported somewhere else. So, the Flora Expo leaves us with no new infrastructure and an enormous price tag. I can't really understand how this has been worth it. There has been much reporting on the scandals though. I guess some of the organizers are happy as they have been able to put money into their pockets. I guess that is how they measure the worth.