Sat, May 12, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Chen lauds merger of Kaohsiung port

DEVOLUTION While the president described a plan to merge the harbor and the city government as `revolutionary,' Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh thinks it doesn't go far enough

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Tsun-hsiung yesterday jumped into Kaohsiung Harbor to show his excitement after President Chen Shui-bian promised to transfer managerial authority for the harbor to the Kaohsiung City Government.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday publicly endorsed the Cabinet's plan to merge Kaohsiung Harbor and the Kaohsiung City Government, saying, "Although the merger is only a small step [for the government to take], it's conceptually revolutionary."

"The relationship between central and local governments is one of partnership. It is not a competitive one or one in which one [government] dominates the other. The potential of Kaohsiung is greater than that of Taipei, so the prospects for the city's future will be immeasurable after the merger," Chen said during a boat trip, while leading a group of media executives to the city's harbor district.

Having taken a strong position on the merger, Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday gave his approval to the Cabinet's continuing efforts to implement the policy, though he also said he was not fully satisfied with them.

"The establishment of an administrative board [to facilitate the transfer of managerial authority from the central government to Kaohsiung City] aims to address shipping companies' concerns, by making it clear that the harbor is not fully under the city government's control. The city government will improve the integration of city and harbor development plans," Hsieh said.

Although the Kaohsiung City Council is still opposed to certain details of the Cabinet's merger plan, Hsieh said that he would continue to press the legislature for a "much more complete" merger.

In accordance with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' plan, administrative boards will soon be set up in all four of Taiwan's international harbors.

Nine to 13 board members, recommended by local governments and approved by the ministry, will be appointed to run each board, headed by local mayors and in Hualien's case, a county commissioner.

The four international harbors in Taiwan are Kaohsiung, Keelung, Taichung and Hualien Harbors.

Upon Chen's arrival at the harbor, Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Tsun-hsiung (陳村雄) dived into the sea to express his support for the merger plan.

"It's the passing of a milestone for Kaohsiung. I fully support it," Chen said as he stood in the water, treading water excitedly to indicate his satisfaction with the news.

Expressing his excitement, President Chen also said that he felt "closer to the southern sea after setting foot in the harbor," and that it helped him to reflect more easily on the meaning of Taiwan being an "ocean country."

President Chen, in addition, urged Kaohsiung Harbor to maintain its competitiveness with other international harbors in the world, adding that the central government should work hand in hand with local governments to create a "win-win" situation.

Commenting on the differences between northern and southern cities, President Chen also said that "inappropriate government policies" had led to the rising unemployment rate, lack of medical and other resources, and underdevelopment in the south.

Consequently, he said, he has ordered certain important gatherings, such as state banquets, be held in central and southern Taiwan.

Recalling his past experiences as a maritime lawyer, President Chen added yesterday that he was delighted to meet former clients in Kaohsiung, including the head of the Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau who briefed yesterday's meeting.

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