Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Commissioner Chou reiterates threat over merger timing

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday that he remained determined to withdraw from politics if the county’s planned merger with Taipei City failed to take place before the planned merger between Taichung City and Taichung County.

“If Taipei County fails to merge into a special municipality [with Taipei City] before Taichung City and County and if the city does not receive NT$60.3 billion (US$1.8 billion) in funding from central government, I will not seek re-election,” Chou told reporters in Jhonghe (中和).

“I said this in the county council and I will keep my promise,” he said.

Chou originally issued his threat to resign in October and his latest comments came in response to the Legislative Yuan’s passage of an amendment to the Local Government Act (地方制度法), which would allow cities and counties to seek mergers or elevation of their status, but their plans must be approved by the Executive Yuan.

Under the revised law, the Ministry of the Interior is authorized to outline plans to adjust administrative organizations based on the need for better utilization of national land and resources, as well as balanced regional and urban-rural development

By becoming a special municipality, Taichung City and Taichung County, or any other administrative district, will be entitled to receive a bigger share of central government funding and be allowed to increase levels of local government staffing.

Passage of the amendment is generally seen as a move to help Taichung City and County become a special municipality as promised by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during his presidential campaign.

However, in addition to Taichung City and County, Taipei City and County, and Kaohsiung City and County had also previously expressed a wish to pursue mergers.

Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) yesterday said that the Kaohsiung City Government would submit its plan to amalgamate with Kaohsiung County to the Kaohsiung City Council for review tomorrow.

Kaohsiung City and County should be more qualified for a merger than Taichung City and County because Kaohsiung City has been a special municipality for decades, she said.

Chen urged the Executive Yuan to treat Kaohsiung fairly and to propose a specific set of review procedures that could be subjected to public scrutiny.

Taoyuan County Commissioner Eric Chu (朱立倫), on the other hand, yesterday said Taoyuan County would apply for an elevation of its status rather than a merger.

He said he hoped to receive Cabinet approval by the end of the year.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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