Thu, Mar 01, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Rank candidates’ ideas for voters

By Chang Ruay-shiung 張瑞雄

Many of the candidates for the Nov. 24 local elections have yet to be decided. Be that as it may, elections for mayors and county commissioners are about choosing the most worthy and capable person to hold that post, rather than choosing between political parties.

Let us hope that voters have the wisdom to see past the illusions of parties and factions, so that Taiwan will no longer be divided between pan-blue and pan-green political camps, with each side maliciously denouncing the other.

One way to choose a worthy and capable candidate would be to make a table comparing the various issues that voters care about, so people can compare candidates objectively, without emotional and party factors interfering. Only by such an objective approach can voters choose the mayors and commissioners who will bring benefits to their cities and counties.

Of course, each voter has their own ideas as to what things should be a priority, but at the least the following things should be considered.

First, all city and county governments are heavily in debt. Mayors and commissioners should place “debt repayment clocks” on their governments’ official Web sites to remind residents of the debt. These “clocks” should show how many days the incumbent mayor or commissioner has left in office and report daily on whether the debt has risen or fallen. This way, mayors and commissioners would not dare borrow money and squander it on a few big, but inappropriate, construction projects or spend money to buy votes.

Second is policies concerning children and the elderly. We need to think about how to house and care for them, how to encourage people to have children and how to help parents with childcare.

In February last year, Taiwan’s aging population index rose to more than 100, meaning that, for the first time, the number of people aged 65 or more surpassed that of people under 15 years old.

This year, the number of older people is forecast to exceed 14 percent of the total population, making Taiwan an aged society. In view of this, caring for elderly people and finding ways to encourage people to have children should be among the most important issues for cities and counties.

Third is how to activate and utilize idle assets. Because of the falling birthrate, many buildings and plots of land belonging to elementary schools and high schools now lie idle. How to entice businesses to use this land will have an influence on a locality’s development and prosperity. The municipalities of Kaohsiung, Tainan and Taichung were formed by merging cities and counties, and there are a lot of schools in their outlying districts that have been closed down. Communities in these areas have lost their cohesion, so mayors and commissioners should propose realistic ways of helping these outlying districts regain vitality.

Fourth is how to attract businesses and encourage investment. Cities and counties cannot develop without money. Apart from relying on central government subsidies, local governments’ sources of finance are very important, and this depends on how local government leaders attract businesses to make money.

Although investment is in many ways a matter of central government power and responsibilities, localities must lead the way with their own efforts. Taiwanese are well-educated and qualified, making the nation a good place for investment. If city and county leaders work with their respective localities’ particular characteristics, it would make it easier to attract businesses.

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