Wed, May 16, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Taichung asks for status upgrade

ALREADY QUALIFIED?Taichung Mayor Jason Hu said the city's density of 6.391 people per square kilometer should place it in the highest category

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu, third left at front, Taichung City Council Speaker Chang Hung-nien, fourth right, and a group of Taichung City councilors raise their fists at the Legislative Yuan yesterday as they called on the government to lower the population threshold for special municipality status to allow the city to become a special municipality.

PHOTO: CNA

Taichung City officials from across party lines called on the legislature yesterday to pass an amendment that would allow the city, which is now classified as a "provincial municipality," to be reclassified as a "special municipality" entitled to a larger budget and staff.

Led by Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) and Taichung City Council Speaker Chang Hung-nien (張宏年), dozens of city councilors visited Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to make their appeal to upgrade the city.

"We want to include a clause in Article 4 of the Local Government Act (地方制度法), as the legislature did with Taipei County," said Hu, who is a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

On May 4, the legislature passed an amendment to the act granting special municipality privileges to counties with a population of more than 2 million residents.

Taipei County is the only county in the nation that meets the population requirement.

The Taichung officials requested that cities with populations of more than 1 million residents be included in the act.

Hu said that Taichung City was already qualified to become a special municipality because its population density of 6,391 people per square kilometer is the third-highest in the country behind Kaohsiung City's 9,862 and Taipei City's 9,684.

Special municipalities are the highest classification of the three levels of local governments. Counties and provincial municipalities constitute the second-highest classification, while townships and county municipalities are the third.

Taipei City and Kaohsiung City are special municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan and hold separate elections.

"We really need a special municipality in central Taiwan so that the government's resources will not be so heavily focused on northern and southern Taiwan," Chang said.

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