Mon, May 01, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Small cities deserve more of Taipei’s attention

By Myer Su 蘇穩中 and Charles Lin 林高清

The nation’s economic achievements were once internationally renowned, but economic growth has widened the ever-expanding gap between rich and poor.

The lack of a bicameral legislature, of effective supervision of the executive offices and of government oversight in balanced regional development has caused cities that once flourished economically to decline in administrative functionality simply because of their distance from the capital.

As young people migrate to Taipei with the promise of higher salaries, other cities continue to become more marginalized.

Take Pingtung for example: the nation’s southernmost city, which has seen a population reduction of 46,930 people since 2010. The political and economic center of Taipei has been unconcerned with the city at the island’s southern tip since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) moved to Taiwan from China.

Pingtung has received proportionally far fewer national resources than other large cities. Many people in the city are concerned that it is becoming increasingly lethargic and that they might soon lose a legislative representative, which would reduce the say of Pingtung’s people in the Legislative Yuan.

In the absence of “economic human rights” and protection from the federal government under the constitutional system, the decline of Pingtung epitomizes the nation’s economic development.

It is unfortunate that this phenomenon has failed to garner the attention of the media, which are mostly located in Taipei, making Pingtung’s unbalanced development even more invisible to officials in the capital.

A group has filed a petition through the government petition platform for the high-speed railway to be extended to Pingtung (https://goo.gl/34qnUM).

The petition as of yesterday had been signed by 6,055 people, reaching the platform’s threshold within a week, whereas typically only about 4.7 percent of petitions are able to meet the requirements.

The strong voice of these people has gathered great interest and attention from Taiwanese. The Pingtung County commissioner, as well as several social activism groups, have echoed the petition’s call to raise awareness about the importance of communication construction in Pingtung.

Pingtung residents have come together on this issue, hoping for more balanced regional development and equality in economic rights. They believe that the government’s investment in communication infrastructure would be an important symbol of the government’s willingness to improve regional imbalance and economic inequality.

For decades, Taipei has been the prime subject of consideration for resources and government policies. It does not favor local industrial transformation and innovation when talent and resources are concentrated in metropolitan regions.

As most corporate headquarters and funds are concentrated in Taipei, other regions are forced to face population loss, lack of funding for infrastructure and fewer employment opportunities.

As the economies in these regions continue to suffer, the gap between rich and poor continues to increase. Such hardships would undoubtedly become long-term challenges for rural regions.

It is therefore all the more critical to come up with strategies to face these challenges, to eliminate domestic inequality and opposition, and to form alliances with other nations on the basis of the common goal of attaining regional balance and equal opportunity for all.

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