Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Kaohsiung mayor looks toward a cleaner future

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Times: Kaohsiung has changed a lot since you became mayor. We can feel the citizens' pride and confidence when visiting Kaohsiung City. Could you share with us your experience of governing Kaohsiung?

Frank Hsieh (謝長廷): Kaohsiung is a city with rich stories. Kaohsiung is a harbor city, but it was also highly polluted because of heavy industry. People often had the impression that Kaohsiung's Ai River was stinky and dirty. They dreamed that one day the Ai River might become clean and that they could row boats on the river. But they never expected their dream would come true. And we made it. We successfully dredged and renovated the Ai River and it is now a beautiful river. Every evening you can hear the music flowing on the river. We also planned many areas for family activities such as cultural centers and pedestrian areas. A lot of families, couples and children now love to spend their time along the river.

My administration also highlighted construction in culture and arts. In the past, Kaohsiung people could only take their friends from other cities to taste the local meals such as seafood. But now they have more choices to know the city.

For example, the Kaohsiung International Container Arts Festival began last week. The event was planned by our Bureau of Cultural Affairs and is a successful combination of Kaohsiung's features and local and international art. By using the old containers that had traveled around the world, the artists created various arts mirroring the personality of Kaohsiung City and provided chances to exchange culture with other countries.

I consider city esthetics when doing urban planning. First, I think public constriction and municipal infrastructure should not simply be buildings but also works of art. Second, I want Kaohsiung to transform into a unique city. We may not have the conditions or resources of Taipei or even Paris, but we take advantage of what we have. We have rivers as other great cities do. Therefore, in addition to the Ai River, we made a lot of efforts to purify and beautify the Chienchen River and Houjing River. Seeing rivers restored has gradually built up Kaohsiung citizens' confidence.

Meanwhile, the MRT system is also under construction. Kaohsiung people can see a bright future for the city. They found what I promised them has been carried out step by step. The drinking water, the rivers, the MRT and the multi-functional cultural center are all under way.

Many citizens or visitors would say to me: "Thank you, Mayor Hsieh. Thank you for beautifying Kaohsiung."

I think it is important to give people the feeling of euphoria. Now we are soliciting a song for the Ai River. We want to create something exclusive to Kaohsiung and make people identify with where they live.

Compared with the highly developed Taipei City, which has delicate cultures, Kaohsiung is a simple city with spacious hinterland. With globalization, it is important for a city to create its own style to gain a place on the world stage.

TT: Your successful municipal construction such as the dredging and renovation of the Chienchen River was crucial to your re-election as mayor last year. You grabbed decisive ballots -- about 20,000 votes -- in the Chienchen district, which was considered pan-blue turf. Could you talk about how you overcame obstacles in doing urban planning?

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