Sun, Dec 14, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Lien to outline plan for local government

BOLD PROGRAM The pan-blue presidential candidate is to propose a radical restructuring which, he claims, would help the nation to remain competitive

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a speech to be delivered tonight at a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance's campaign rally in Sanchung, Taipei County, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) is expected to call for a referendum on the merging of Taipei City and Taipei County.

A copy of the speech was faxed to media organizations yesterday.

Citing Tokyo and Los Angeles as examples, Lien, presidential candidate of the pan-blue camp, envisioned a district administrative government (區域政府) composed of the Taipei City, Taipei County and neighboring cities and counties such as Hsinchu and Taoyuan counties.

Lien, challenging President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election by running on a joint ticket with his PFP counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜), argued that restructuring administrative districts is a global trend whereby forming a district government would allow the country to stay competitive.

Moreover, Lien proposes delineating Taiwan into four main centers: northern Taiwan as financial and hi-tech development center, central Taiwan as the hub for hi-tech and cultural tourism, southern Taiwan as the hi-tech agricultural, biochemical and shipping core and eastern Taiwan as a tourism area.

In the draft speech Lien accused Chen of driving a wedge between Taipei City and Taipei County as well as Taichung City and Taichung County. Chen was a stone which hindered Taiwan's progress, Lien said.

In the draft speech Lien stated that if elected, he would complete his pledged "Four Main Centers" in one year, hold a referendum on the merge of Taipei City and Taipei County in two years and realize the merge of the two regions by third year.

Taipei County Government currently has jurisdiction over 3 million residents while the Taipei City Government governs about 2.5 million residents.

Before taking part in tonight's rally in Taipei however, Lien and Soong were down in Kaohsiung and Tainan yesterday and occupied themselves with campaign events wooing southern voters' support.

"Once elected, I will attach importance to the development of Kaohsiung City," Lien told a meeting of pan-blue city mayors and counties commissioners in Kaohsiung.

Lien and Soong then took part in the launch of the alliance's campaign office in Tainan yesterday afternoon before returning to Kaohsiung City in the evening for a campaign rally.

The latest poll released by the alliance yesterday showed support for the Lien-Soong ticket at 32.6 percent while Chen and his running mate, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), were at 25.8 percent.

In comparison to last week's poll, support for the Lien-Soong ticket had declined by 2.5 percentage points while that for the Chen-Lu ticket had increased by one percentage point..

In view of the declining support for the Lien-Soong ticket shown in the poll, Huang Teh-fu (黃德福), director of the KMT's public opinion poll center, said it was not because the support has moved to the Chen-Lu ticket but rather that some people, confused by Chen's call for a defensive referendum or tired of ideological confrontation, had been put off politics altogether and didn't want to state a preference for any candidate.

More than 40 percent of those surveyed in the poll said that they were opposed to Chen's call for a defensive referendum, while 49.8 percent said they thought the referendum call was a strategy of Chen's to improve his re-election chances. Only 29.6 percent said they believed the referendum was a result of Chen's determination to protect Taiwan's sovereignty.

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