President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday gave a ringing endorsement of outgoing Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), applauding Chou for launching river dredging projects, among other achievements, marking the end of the commissioner’s four-year term in office.
Chou will step down as on Dec. 25 with the upgrade and renaming of Taipei County Sinbei City. Mayor-elect Eric Chu (朱立倫) will take over Chou’s position on the same day.
Ma yesterday accompanied Chou on an inspection tour of major municipal projects, including improvement work to the Jhonggang drainage system in Sinjhuang City (新莊) and artificial wetlands in Banciao (板橋). He also attended a Christmas party hosted by the county government in the evening.
“When Commissioner Chou promised to dredge the rivers and create a recreational area along the riverside five years ago, I thought it was nothing but election sloganeering. I am impressed that he carried out his campaign promises,” Ma said in Sinjhuang.
The dredging of the Tamsui River (淡水河) and upgrading of sewage systems in the county was one of Chou’s major campaign promises. His successor Chu has also vowed to continue this works and improve the county’s competitiveness after it is upgraded as Sinbei City.
Chou thanked the president for his public endorsement, and Ma gave him a big hug as a gesture of support.
Chou, 52, gave up his re--election bid in February as his low approval ratings forced Ma and the party to endorse Chu as the party candidate.
Chou won the Taipei County Commissioner election over Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate Lo Wen-jia (羅文嘉) by a large margin in 2005. However, he has consistently suffered from a low approval rating for what has been perceived as a lackluster performance during his time in office.
There has been speculation that Chou only agreed to withdraw from the Sinbei race in exchange for a position in the Cabinet or Presidential Office.
The commissioner denied speculation that Ma, who also doubles as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, may arrange a cushy party position for Chou after he steps down.
“Frankly, I have no plans for the future yet, and there’s no special arrangements waiting for me,” he said.