Thu, Nov 08, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: All eyes on self-important Chou

Even if the media are rather preoccupied with documenting every move the Democratic Progressive Party and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidates make and everything that passes from their lips, local government officials should not think they can get away with abusing the system.

Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) would do well to heed this advice.

Following a May amendment to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) that grants special municipality privileges to counties with a population of more than 2 million, the Taipei County Government eagerly increased special allowances for its county commissioner and department chiefs. When this indefensible change takes effect next year, Chou's monthly special allowance will leap to NT$200,000 from NT$88,000.

Late last month, Chou petulantly promoted 140 police officers over the objections of the National Police Agency, which said the county government did not have the authority to promote them.

And just when you thought Chou was finished with his ridiculous show of authority as the head of a municipality-to-be, the county government earlier this week announced it would launch a trial program to give its department of environmental protection staffers three days off per week to help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

A little bit of creative thinking will certainly be needed to fend off the devastating effects of uncurbed global warming, but Chou's method is simply farcical.

Apart from the fact that staff who supposedly should be at work fighting for the environment will be off so often, what makes the Taipei County Government think that staff won't immediately jump in their cars and go somewhere fun to spend their new-found free time?

So much for cutting emissions.

Chou could do us all a real favor by hopping on a bicycle to go to work.

An annual survey of local residents by the Chinese-language CommonWealth magazine recently found that Chou ranked second from the bottom among all 25 local government leaders in terms of performance.

A separate survey by the Chinese-language Global View Monthly suggested that Chou also lags behind other city and county heads in terms of government efficiency, integrity, quality of life and overall voter satisfaction.

One would think these less than flattering statistics would be enough to shame Chou into shaping up. Instead of trying to assert his influence for the sake of seeming strong, he should get to work producing concrete results that will improve the lives of Taipei County residents.

Chou's zeal to exercise his authority as head of the nation's most populated county is not motivated by a desire to help his constituents.

What he needs is a reminder of just what he was elected to do. Public servants are chosen to work for the common good of the people -- to improve living standards, not to line their own pockets with public funds and find lame excuses for laziness.

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