Sun, Apr 05, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Spat over plan to merge counties and cities continues

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) yesterday dismissed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) allegations that the Local Government Act (地方制度法) might be used as an instrument to manipulate elections in favor of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

The legislature cleared the amendment to the Act on Friday, endowing the Executive Yuan with the power to approve or reject plans to merge cities and counties into special municipalities.

If a merger plan is approved by the Executive Yuan, the terms in office of a city or a county’s mayor or commissioner, city or county councilors and village and township mayors would be extended to the expiration date for mayors of special municipalities.

“That would leave too much leeway for political manipulation in the name of advancing mergers between cities and counties and elevating their status,” DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said yesterday.

YEAR-END ELECTIONS

The Executive Yuan might approve merger plans in cities and counties where the KMT could lose to the DPP in year-end city mayor and county commissioner elections and where the KMT could encounter difficulty integrating potential candidates in its primaries, she said.

“For example, the Executive Yuan might have Taipei County merge with Taipei City if the KMT cannot dissuade Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) from running for re-election,” she said.

Chou has fallen far behind former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of the DPP in opinion polls. Some speculate that he will represent the DPP in elections for the position he previously held for two terms.

On Friday, Chou reiterated his determination to seek a status upgrade of the county and said he would quit politics if Taipei County failed to be upgraded to a special municipality before the merger of Taichung City and Taichung County, which is expected to take place around the end of the year.

RESPONSE

In response to Kuan, Su Jun-pin yesterday said he had no idea where the allegations came from, as the DPP had not opposed the amendment to the Act when it was debated in the legislature.

“There will be no political considerations. The Executive Yuan welcomes anyone who wants to examine how it reviews applications for mergers between cities and counties,” Su Jun-pin said.

KMT legislative caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) also dismissed the allegations, saying that merging cities and counties is not something the Executive Yuan can push through on its own.

“An integration of cities and counties will bring about major changes in local politics, one of which will be a reduction in the number of seats for city councilors and county councilors,” Lin said. “The Executive Yuan cannot make a merger happen without support from local political figures.”

“If the KMT is likely to lose in local elections in a city or a county, a merger of the city or the county with other cities or counties would not ensure that the party would win the election,” he said.

Also See: Promises that should not be kept

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