Fri, Jan 03, 2020 - Page 8 News List

Han needs to refocus on realistic initiatives

By Wu Yei-long 吳義隆

Kaohsiung’s budget for next year has reached a record high. Whether it will help to drive Kaohsiung’s development will depend on whether the money is spent where it is most needed.

Kaohsiung’s development and governance cannot be achieved through telekinesis, slogans or fantasies. Instead, it must be based on the logic of urban planning and turn the city into a place that can attract businesses.

Only by offering good job opportunities and a livable environment will the city be able to convince young people to stay in Kaohsiung and stem the outflow of talent to northern Taiwan.

Good job opportunities and a good living environment are also the only ways to give Kaohsiung residents a good chance to strike it rich.

The development of Kaohsiung has followed the same pattern as the rest of the nation.

After the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government fled from China to Taiwan in 1949, it restructured the “Southward Expansion” project left behind by the Japanese and started promoting heavy industry and implemented incentives to encourage investment.

During this time, Kaohsiung Port was built and the heavy industry in the surrounding area was established in coordination with the establishment of the Kaohsiung Export Processing Zone, which contributed to the development of the city into Taiwan’s second-largest.

As time went on and Taiwan accelerated its industrial upgrades, the industrial center shifted toward the high-tech industry belt in northern Taiwan.

In addition, as the focus on heavy industry created a pollution problem and labor-intensive industry moved to China, Kaohsiung’s population and industry relative to the rest of the nation started to fall.

This was followed by the growing strength of China, which started attracting even more labor and energy-intensive industries. Taiwan then shifted its industrial focus toward industrial innovation and the creative industry in response to global development trends.

As a result of the increased use of containers and size of ships, the shipping once handled in Kaohsiung’s old port area was relocated to a new port.

More than a decade ago, the Kaohsiung City Government seized on this opportunity to transform the city by building the Asia New Bay Area, a major construction project that included industrial, exhibition and cultural sites in response to Taiwan’s industrial transformation and global development.

A great deal of waterfront development is being introduced, which is intended to drive development of the overall construction and transformation of the city, giving each area its own development focus: trade in the central area, logistics in the south, technology in the north and recreation in the east.

However, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) government has failed to continue promoting this construction and has instead spent large sums of money on fantasy projects such as “conquering the universe,” which have not done much to improve residents’ livelihoods.

Hopefully the Han administration will be able to live up to the hopes of Kaohsiung residents and not let them down. To show that all of Han’s promises during his mayoral campaign were not empty talk, his administration must not miss out on this opportunity to further improve Kaohsiung.

Wu Yei-long is former director of the Kaohsiung Urban Development Bureau.

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