Sun, Aug 28, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Lu proposes capital in the south and remapping nation

BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday courted controversy at an academic forum by proposing to remap the country's administrative regions.

In her proposal, Lu suggested moving the capital south or appointing another capital in the south to reduce the development gap between northern and southern Taiwan.

Apart from making the suggestion that Taiwan should be divided into four major parts -- northern, central, western and eastern Taiwan -- to replace the current 22 administrative regions governed by local governments, Lu also proposed to establish two "special administrations" -- one governing the nation's high mountainous regions and the other governing Taiwan's off-shore islands.

"As an initiator of remapping the country's local administrations, I want to say that we must have an overall change in the existing situation, which is not suitable anymore for the country to maintain a sustainable living environment", Lu said.

Lu used the High-Speed Rail (HSR) network as an example, which is scheduled to start operating this year. The HSR would greatly influence the areas it passes through, she said.

"As the HSR would shorten the geographical distance and save transportation time, it would be meaningless to have so many small administrative divisions," Lu said, noting that that's why she suggested dividing Taiwan into four major parts.

Responding to the vice president's idea, Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎), the Interior Ministry vice minister -- whose ministry is in charge of the country's administrative divisions -- said that he's not sure whether Lu's proposal can replace current policy.

"The vice president has the right to express her opinions, but I am not sure whether they will be adopted as the government's policy or not," Chien said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday endorsed Lu's idea of remapping the nation's administrative regions. However, he suggested that the new regions should be divided into three metropolitan areas.

"My idea is to merge the administrative divisions into northern, central and southern metropolitan areas. The three areas will serve as a development engine driving the country forward," Ma said yesterday.

Ma said that there would be more details to work out on the issue, such as if the title "province" should be retained.

However, KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said that "it seemed to me that Lu's proposal was a preparation for declaring the country's independence in the future."

The Democratic People's Party government should enhance its ability to implement policies, not remap the nation, said Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交), the People First Party caucus whip.

additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

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