A slew of horrific crimes that recently took place in Greater Taichung have dumbfounded many, leaving Taichung residents and visitors alike wondering what’s becoming of the city.
Aside from reports of public kidnappings, victims being attacked in broad daylight, group beatings and even contemptuous heckling of police, there also came a shocking piece of news that a cache of 33 firearms — including submachine guns, rifles and pistols as well as more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition — was recently unearthed under an earth god shrine in the city.
In view of the string of crimes and the discovery of the underground weapons cache, many can’t help but wonder whether Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu’s (胡志強) declaration of war on organized crime still rings true in the face of the city’s deteriorating public order.
Indeed, many were reminded of Hu’s pledge soon after alleged gang leader Weng Chi-nan (翁奇楠) was gunned down at his office in late May in the presence of Taichung policemen who were there playing mahjong.
Showing his determination to crack down on crime, Hu, aside from declaring war on gangsters, also requested assistance from the National Police Administration, which dispatched the elite Wei-An Special Police Commando unit to the city.
That was during Hu’s re-election campaign and a few months away from the Nov. 27 special municipality elections.
Now, with the elections over and Hu re-elected, it is to be hoped that Hu’s return to Taichung City Hall will not mean that the city’s public order is no longer a pressing matter.
In response to the discovery of the underground weapons vault, Hu said it was good that the firearms were discovered before they could be used to commit crimes. True enough, but one can’t count on flukes all the time, let alone in a city notorious for weak public order.
A glance at government agencies’ statistics indicates that the city had the highest crime rate in the nation for six consecutive years — except last year, when it slipped to second place.
Citing numbers that showed the city’s crime rate per 100,000 residents — such as burglary and fraud — have dropped from fourth-highest in January to 12th place over consecutive months between June and September, Hu in October hailed the drop in crime, saying his city would no longer be viewed as the “crime city.”
However, as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) often says: “Public servants should be mindful of public perception.”
As Taichung residents by and large do not feel the city’s crime situation has improved, Hu certainly has a lot more to do than to pat himself on the back.
To show that his declaration of war against organized crime made prior to Nov. 27 was not mere campaign rhetoric aimed at soliciting votes, Hu needs to step up and show how, as mayor of Greater Taichung, he intends to build a successful city for his residents; a proud municipality where law and order are upheld and law officials are regarded with due esteem.
Indeed, as the city turns a new page now that it has been amalgamated with the former Taichung County to become a special municipality, much more is expected of Hu and his administrative team.
After all, ridding residents of the fear of living surrounded by crime is the least an elected public official should do when serving his or her people.