Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 4 News List

2009 World Games could unite a divided Taiwan

Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh is promoting a ``civic trust movement'' and has won a 78 percent approval rating from Kaohsiung residents. Taipei Times staff reporter Jewel Huang spoke with Hsieh about Kaohsiung's recent by-election, winning the bid to host the 2009 World Games, the direction of the nation and Hsieh's political future

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh said the city faces challenges leading up to the 2009 World Games. He hopes the international event will divert people's attention away from politics, which have divided the Taiwanese people for years.


Taipei Times: In a survey conducted by the China Times daily earlier this month, people's satisfaction with you overtook that of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). How do you interpret this change in public opinion and what do you think created this shift?

Frank Hsieh (謝長廷): I think Kaohsiung's change gave residents of the city a lot of confidence and hope about the future. The past few years I've been worried that Kao-hsiung is racing against time, and the people's trust in the mayor they elected was essential. If people doubted the mayor's loyalty to the city and spoke badly of him, it would be difficult for us to do my job. I am happy to see that a high number of Kaohsiung residents are full of expectations about the future.

I would say such a high expectation for the city's future was the result of constant interaction between the city government and residents -- though I know most residents are impressed by the transformation of the city's landscape and new infrastructure. We kept our promises to finish municipal construction step by step. For example, we succeeded in purifying and beautifying the Love River and the Chienchen River and made great improvements in the quality of tap water in Kaohsiung.

residents gradually built up their confidence and even have more confidence than we do in certain events, such as for the 2009 World Games, a project for which we don't have any experience. Some people have even asked me to run in the mayoral election again, even though this is my second term in office.

I think Kaohsiung residents have experienced the city government's sense of mission and sincerity. For a local government, it would be a lot easier to push municipal construction if local residents are proud of their city's progression.

On the other hand, it is a pity that the people of Taiwan waste too much time on political wrangling. Lawmakers always look busy but seldom solve any problems. They simply focused on something illusory and trivial.

For example, five years ago, many city councilors boycotted a construction development plan in Sanmin district because they disapproved of the city government. City councilors didn't pass the project until recently because they found that the development of the Sanmin district has dragged far behind other districts. We could have created nearly 15,000 jobs in the development plan.

Thus, I made up my mind at that time that I didn't want the Kaohsiung City Government to sit idle because of some boycott. Kaohsiung is racing against time and I will endeavor to carry out my promises to the residents in my remaining term.

TT: Kaohsiung has won its bid to host the 2009 World Games. At this point, what does the city need to hold such a big international sports event?

Hsieh: Actually we don't have any experience holding an international event like this. We haven't built a qualified stadium so far and we need a lot of resources and support from the private sector. Therefore, we are planning a series of trips to learn from other countries' experiences. We will also hold many invitational tournaments as a warm-up for the 2009 World Games.

Besides that, we also have to deal with many problems that we've never faced before, such as adequate space for the competition, accommodation and reception for athletes and their families, public security, transportation, tourism and so on.

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