During the past presidential election, I proposed making Greater Taichung Taiwan’s second capital. I suggested the first step would be moving the Legislative Yuan there.
In democratic countries, sovereignty lies in the hands of the people. The legislature is Taiwan’s highest government body and should reflect that fact. However, its location is worth discussing, and should not descend into debates about whether legislators are acting out of self-interest when they propose a change of venue. I convened a cross-party committee to plan the move, to oversee issues such as the new location, the design, the allocation of the relocation budget and the actual construction.
The Legislative Yuan is currently located in the former grounds of a Japanese colonial-era high school. Apart from costing more than NT$100 million (US$3.38 million) in annual rent, its current location is actually illegal, as the grounds should be allocated for a school. Relocation becomes not a matter of whether we should do it, but how.
Another consideration is that Taiwan’s national government agencies are all in the Taipei City area, which is vulnerable to nuclear disasters. After the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, the Tokyo and Osaka governments started transferring some of Japan’s major national-level functions to Osaka to make it a “backup capital.”
The Taipei Basin would be affected by a disaster at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen District (石門) or the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli (萬里) — both in New Taipei City (新北市) — or even the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County.
Aside from these concerns, a shortage of land in Taipei, as well as overcrowding, high housing costs and constraints on the quality of life are also good reasons to relocate.
Relocating government departments would place less stress on Taipei, but doing so for many government departments would be relatively complicated and problematic, not least because it would involve also relocating many civil servants.
The Legislative Yuan, however, consists of only 113 individual legislators. Also, legislators should be serving people throughout Taiwan, so the move to Greater Taichung would make sense. In addition, the Legislative Yuan only meets for about six months of the year and, with the exception of government officials who might have to go there twice a week to answer questions, legislators would not have to be tied to its location.
Even more important is the issue of rezoning national land. Taiwan has yet to address the problem of uneven development, which has caused differential development between the northern, central, southern and eastern areas, as well as an increasing urban-rural gap. Rational discussion between legislators and various sectors of society is needed to find the best possible way of reaching the greatest and most beneficial consensus on how to use the relocation of the Legislative Yuan to bring about more balanced national development.
By moving the Legislative Yuan, it would be possible to come up with ways to develop national land that benefit everyone as well as to implement government renewal. Future government agencies could also be established in areas outside Taipei. The High Speed Rail has already made one-day business trips around the nation possible, effectively making Taiwan a city-state with Greater Taichung as its city center. New times call for new ways of thinking and new action. This is the only way Taiwan can experience new development.