Sat, Dec 14, 2002 - Page 3 News List

President asks Ma to cooperate

FRESH START?Chen Shui-bian said now that the polls have closed, it is time to move beyond confrontation and to forge a more positive relationship with the local leader

By Lin Mei-Chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, left, shakes hands with President Chen Shui-bian in Taipei yesterday. Ma won a sweeping re-election victory last week and is considered a leading candidate to oppose Chen in the 2004 presidential elections, though he says he has no plans to do so.

PHOTO: REUTERS

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday stressed the significance of forging a cooperative relationship between the central and local governments, saying he hopes Taipei City will set an example for this kind of partnership.

In a meeting with Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the president called for an end to the hostility that characterized the recent election campaign, saying collaboration can begin now that the race is over.

"The relationship between the central and local governments should not be based on antagonism, but on partnership. Attacks and misunderstandings in the past should come to a halt with an aim to welcome a new beginning," Chen said in his meeting with Ma.

The president held separate meetings with Ma and Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to congratulate the two for their successful bids for re-election.

The DPP was soundly defeated in last Saturday's election in Taipei, but held on to Kaohsiung.

Political observers were keeping a close eye on the Chen-Ma meeting given that Ma, who won a landslide 64 percent of the votes in the mayoral race, is said to be the most likely candidate to compete against Chen in the 2004 presidential contest.

The meeting was their second encounter since Chen took office in May 2000.

Their first meeting took place on May 24, 2000, four days after Chen was inaugurated.

Contacts between the two leaders were interrupted, how-ever, due to frayed relations between the central and Taipei City governments.

Chen said he was honored to serve as a mayor of Taipei and was pleased to hand on his mission to Ma.

To turn Taipei into an internationally competitive metropolis, the president urged Ma to cooperate with the central government and to work with leaders of neighboring regions.

The president suggested that Ma turn around the city's deteriorating public order and find out whether the city was trying to generate money by issuing traffic tickets.

Chen said public security would be put at risk if the city's Sungshan Airport was used for direct cross-strait flights.

The DPP and KMT were at odds during the campaign concerning the future of the airport.

Whereas DPP candidate Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) wanted to relocate the airport and turn the old site into a park, Ma said it should become a base for cross-strait flights.

Ma told the president that he welcomes any discussions on the city airport and agrees that national security should be taken into account.

Ma said that he did not mean for the Sungshan Airport to become the first airport to be used for such flights, but simply hoped that it would not be ignored once cross-strait routes are allowed.

The Taipei mayor said that he would considering adopting some of the DPP's campaign promises because "campaign activities are temporary, whereas administration is the only thing that lasts."

In his meeting with Hsieh, Chen restated the government's resolve to place an equal emphasis on the north and the south, but added that central Taiwan is also important.

The distribution of resources has been at the center of debate. DPP Taipei County Commissioner Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) is enraged that the Cabinet is considering turning Taichung County and Taichung City into a special municipality in an effort to balance the nation's development.

On Thursday, Su vowed to resign unless Taipei County is also given special status.

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