Fri, Dec 31, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Hsieh: `Our positive thinking's working'

While strolling along the leisure park City Light Corridor or the cafe along the banks of Love River, it is not unusual to hear people talking about Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh's municipal achievements. This year marks Hsieh's sixth year in office and his performance in Kaohsiung City have won him much support. As one of the potential candidates in the 2008 presidential election race, Hsieh talked about his Kaohsiung experience and visions of the future of Taiwan with `Taipei Times' reporter Jewel Huang.

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Kaohsiung City's Love River by night.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: Kaohsiung City, where you took on the campaign aide for the pan-green camp in the legislative elections, was a success. It was also one of the few cities that could surpass the expected goal set by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). What was the key to Kaohsiung City' s role in the elections?

Hsieh: I think the key to our performing well in the legislative elections was that the Kaohsiung City Government gave citizens the general impression that we are a united administrative team.

And we did make some achievements in municipal construction.

At present, the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) have the majority in the Kaohsiung City Council, which is advantageous to me in implementing reforms and construction projects.

In fact, we obtained similar number of votes in the legislative elections as in the presidential election.

We tried to advocate to voters the idea that "when you choose Taiwan you also choose Kaohsiung." We highlighted the importance of cooperation.

In the elections, the candidates of the pan-green camp made a commitment to voters with a common campaign platform. They promised Kaohsiung citizens to win more budget increases and to speak for the city in the Legislative Yuan.

And I think such an appeal touched people's hearts and might be a good example for other cities and counties to apply in the future elections. Kaohsiung's case also proved that it worked for candidates to make campaign commitments that are related to local developments, not to just ideological issues.

But I have to say that the DPP did not really lose the legislative elections; in fact, the DPP representation increased by two more seats than it did in the last elections. The DPP just created an impossibly high standard to attain for the elections, by which it increased by at least two percent of votes.

Taipei Times: Now that the pan-green camp failed to become the legislative majority, how do you think the pan-green camp should act in future legislative sessions?

Hsieh: It is normal for a country or a society to encounter choke points at times. I think the best way to deal with such a situation is to figure out a new way of doing things and to seek allies for cooperation. Taiwan can't afford to get nowhere for another three years and the world won't wait for you. Although there will be many difficulties in working together with other parties, I think the DPP still has to cooperate with them [the opposition parties] on certain issues and together create a win-win situation.

Taipei Times: People of Taiwan, not only in Kaohsiung but also in other cities, have witnessed and experienced the dramatic changes of Kaohsiung City. Kaohsiung has become the most important city in south Taiwan and competes with Taipei City in many ways. What are the areas in which you are confident of surpassing Taipei City, in terms of recent developments in Kaohsiung?

Hsieh: Although we've been promoting an idea that Kaohsiung City does not try to become the "number one city" but to come out as an "one and only city," the city government team has brought about some positive changes to the quality of life for Kaohsiung citizens, and we have at least 15 progressive indicators in municipal achievement that could rival Taipei City.

For example, Kaohsiung citizens enjoy the highest percentage of the green belt and park spaces compared to other cities' urban planning.

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