Reaction to a special panel's decision on applications by 11 cities and counties to be upgraded or merged into a municipal city was mixed yesterday, with those receiving the green light expressing joy while those rejected saying they were perplexed and calling the decision “unfair.”
A 25-person ad hoc committee convened by the Ministry of the Interior unanimously approved on Tuesday night the upgrading of Taipei County to a municipal city and the mergers of Taichung City and County and Kaohsiung City and County.
The committee, however, unanimously rejected the applications submitted by Taoyuan County and Changhua County to be upgraded to municipal cities, as well as a merger application by Yunlin County and Chiayi County.
It also failed to reach a consensus on Tainan City and County's proposal to be merged and upgraded to a municipal city. Tainan's application will therefore be referred to the Executive Yuan for a decision, Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) said.
All recommendations made by the committee must be approved by the Executive Yuan to be implemented.
If they are sanctioned by the Executive Yuan, incumbent Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as well as Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) and Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will have their tenures extended by a year until the heads of the newly formed municipal cities are elected late next year.
Chou told a news conference yesterday that the administrative upgrade for the county was “the beginning of heavier responsibility and more pressure.”
He added that he would help build the county into a modern and international metropolis.
“I will make Sinbei City (新北市) a modern and civilized city with an international perspective and raise the quality of life for all residents,” Chou said.
“Sinbei City” was the name adopted by Taipei County Council in April for Taipei County once it is upgraded to a municipal city.
There is no official English translation for the name yet, county government spokesman Lee Tsung-kwei (李宗桂) said, adding that it may be translated as Sinbei City or New Taipei City.
Hu said that after Taichung City merges with Taichung County and is upgraded to a municipal city, “Taichung will become a very attractive destination for investment.”
Hu said he planned to push for several new urban development projects for the new Taichung metropolis.
Taichung County Commissioner Huang Chung-sheng (黃仲生) said the enlarged and upgraded New Taichung City would ensure balanced regional development.
As for the county's Aboriginal township — Heping Township (和平) — Huang said he supported designating it as an Aboriginal special administrative region.
Taichung Deputy Mayor Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家旗) said that since elections for the head of the new Taichung municipal city would not be held until next year, Hu could take his time in considering whether he would join the race.
Chen said it was “simply natural” for her to seek re-election now that the merger between Kaohsiung City and County had been approved.
“I will strive to win the support of Kaohsiung residents with the outstanding performance of my administrative team and will come up with a blueprint for development of the Greater Kaohsiung area soon,” she said in an interview with cable network SETTV yesterday.