Lien plans to unite central Taiwan

CULTURAL HUB: Apart from talking of merging five cities and counties in central Taiwan, Lien Chan further wants to move the National Palace Museum to Taichung

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 1

Following last week's call for a referendum on merging Taipei City and Taipei County, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday proposed to hold a referendum on merging five cities and counties in central Taiwan.

Lien, presidential candidate of the KMT-People First Party (PFP) alliance, also pledged that, if elected, he would move the National Palace Museum to Taichung.

Outlining his plan at a pan-blue-alliance-sponsored campaign rally in Taichung last night, Lien said he would complete restructuring the country's administrative districts in one year after winning the presidency, and hold a referendum on merging central Taiwan's five cities and counties within two years.

These cities and counties include Taichung City, Taichung County, Nantou County, Changhua County and Yunlin County.

Lien said restructuring of the region's local administrative government to form a district administrative government is the only way for it to stay competitive.

"Taichung needs a new direction which can be achieved by restructuring its administration," Lien said.

"[Taichung Mayor] Jason Hu's (胡志強) proposal to establish the world-class Guggenheim Museum in Taichung is just the first step in changing the city's outlook on the future," he said, referring to Hu's proposal and efforts to get financial support for building a Guggenheim Museum branch in the city.

Hu had already succeeded in obtaining 80 percent of the NT$6.4 billion needed for establishing a branch of the museum.

"We will invest NT$10 billion to develop central Taiwan as the most important international cultural hub in the country, or even the whole East Asian region," Lien said.

The pan-blue presidential hopeful, appealing to central Taiwan voters, said that Taichung then would become the home of the National Palace Museum, while the building in Taipei would be turned into a branch of the museum.

He said that the new museum in Taichung would be "ten times bigger than the one in Taipei."

Lien further said that, aside from the Guggenheim Museum and National Palace Museum, he would also establish a cultural artist park, a Folk Cultural Exhibition Hall (民間文物展示館) and a Civil Cultural Exchange Center (民間文物交易中心) where world-class auction companies, such as Sotheby's, could stage international art auctions.

Lien criticized the Democratic Progressive Party administration for failing to develop Taichung.

Referring to a recent volley of criticism and accusations by the DPP about the KMT's assets, Lien said that the DPP's political agenda was all about igniting political struggle and conflicts. The party did not care about solving people's real issues and the country's problems, he said.