Thu, Jan 16, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Borough wardens take Ma to task over reforms

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday tried to reassure the city's borough wardens that his administration would continue to consult them as the city's government reforms low-level local government.

"I believe that most borough chiefs do not do their job simply to benefit themselves," Ma said in a press release. "I understand that you feel wronged by society, and that your contributions to the community are often forgotten by society."

Eight newly elected borough wardens from the Taipei City Borough Warden Association yesterday visited the mayor to appeal for respect for their job, which has been widely criticized as simply a lucrative post that provides no substantial benefits to communities.

The borough wardens yesterday visited the mayor in response to attempts by the city's Bureau of Civil Affairs to revise their powers.

They said that the reforms would reduce their status and deprive them of the right to appoint neighborhood chiefs.

Association chairman Lin Chin-chuan (林金全), who spoke on behalf of the city's borough wardens, told the mayor yesterday, "We are not here to ask for profit for ourselves. Society misunderstands our job."

In response to the borough wardens' complaints, Ma said he knew that many people misunderstood what the borough wardens did and what funds they received.

"For example, not every borough warden gets compensation for incinerators or landfill sites. Only one-third of the city's boroughs that are surrounded by these facilities can get the compensation," Ma said.

He also defended plans for the district chiefs, which are appointed by the mayor, to directly appoint the neighborhood chiefs. Borough wardens used to have sole authority to appoint their neighborhood chiefs.

The appointed neighborhood chiefs would have to include directors of local community management boards, which take care of residential complexes, under the new rules.

"As for selecting neighborhood chiefs, the city government's policy that requires candidates to include the directors of local community management boards is designed to expand community participation," Ma said. "The borough wardens still have the right to recommend qualified candidates."

"I promise that city officials will continue negotiating and consulting with borough wardens to convince them of the city government's goodwill to enhance local community development," Ma said.

The city's Bureau of Civil Affairs also plans to cut the monthly NT$2,000 transport allowance for neighborhood chiefs, awarding half the amount to the borough wardens.

"This change would create conflicts between borough wardens and neighborhood chiefs, who would blame us for taking their share of the subsidy," Lin said.

In addition, Taipei City Government recently canceled the NT$45,000 annual holiday bonuses for borough wardens.

Several benefits awarded by former Taipei mayor Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), including free motorbikes and money to buy suits, were all canceled during Ma's first term as mayor.

A total of 449 borough wardens, who were elected on Jan. 8, will be sworn in at Taipei City Hall this morning.

Local Chinese-language reports said yesterday that many dissatisfied borough wardens might protest at today's inauguration ceremony, which will be presided over by Ma.

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