Thu, Sep 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lienchiang puts brakes on survey on name change

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The People First Party (PFP)-controlled Lienchiang County Government has decided to temporarily call off a plan to survey its residents on whether the county's name should be changed to Matsu, a county official said yesterday.

"The project will be restarted at a time [the county] deems appropriate, depending on the political environment," said Liu Chin-chiao (劉金嬌), section chief of the county government's Civil Bureau.

She didn't elaborate on what she meant by "political environment," but media speculated that the PFP wanted to avoid complicating next year's presidential election by conducting the survey.

As there is a Lienchiang County in both China and Taiwan, the county government was considering changing the name of the Taiwan county to avoid shipments and mail being misdirected.

The government in April proposed surveying its residents on whether the county's name should be changed to Matsu, a name with which Taiwan's public is more familiar when referring to the 19 islets of Lienchiang County.

Taiwan's Lienchiang County is administratively under the Republic of China's Fukien Province. China's Lienchiang County is in the province which in China is spelled "Fujian."

The name-change proposal was one of the campaign pledges made two years ago by Lienchiang County Commissioner Chen Hsueh-sheng (陳雪生).

Rounds of exploratory meetings have been held countywide and a survey was to be conducted this month by a polling company hired by the county government.

Liu said that while some approved of the idea, a majority opposed to the proposal and questioned what immediate benefits would come of it.

Liu said some people opposed to the name-change idea believe that adding postal codes or adding "Taiwan" to addresses for mail bound for Lienchiang County could alleviate the confusion.

They were also worried that changing the name might appear as an indication of support for the pro-independence stance of the governing Democratic Progressive Party.

"The meetings in some townships got a bit fired up -- so much so that the divisiveness seemed to negatively affect the township's harmony and split the people into two camps," she said.

"To avoid divisiveness in the county and taking into consideration concerns over political and cross-strait sensitivity, the county commissioner earlier this week approved our suggestion to temporarily halt the project," Liu said.

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