Both Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) yesterday held press conferences to mark the one-year anniversary of the merger of their respective administrative regions, while in Taipei City, Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) celebrated his fifth anniversary in office.
The number of special municipalities jumped from two — Taipei City and Kaohsiung City — to five — home to 60 percent of the nation’s population — on Dec. 26 last year.
In addition to Taipei City and New Taipei City (新北市, the upgraded Taipei County), the other three areas were expanded through a merger of two administrative districts: Greater Taichung is the result of a merger of Taichung city and Taichung county; Greater Tainan is a merger of Tainan city and Tainan county; and Greater Kaohsiung is a merger of Kaohsiung city and Kaohsiung county.
Chen and other members of the Greater Kaohsiung government thanked the people of Kaohsiung yesterday for their support during the past year.
“We would like to thank the understanding of the residents of Greater Kaohisung during the past year while we worked to overcome the difficulties of the merger and raise Greater Kaohisung’s competitive edge,” she said.
Citing an increase in the budget for social benefits, additional buses and the escalation of productivity in Kaohsiung’s tourism industry as proof of the past year’s political achievements, Chen added that the Kaohisung City Government had already put into action the “Asia New Bay Area” project, which includes the construction of an exhibition center, a culture and music center, the Kaohsiung Port Terminal and a sea-side light rail.
The construction projects would be finished within three years and in tandem with the Pier 2 Arts Center, they would not only create new job opportunities, but also lay the groundwork for the city’s transformation.
Meanwhile, in Greater Tainan, Lai announced the commencement of a new city administrative center project.
As a result of the merger of Tainan county and city, Lai had to travel between the original Tainan county government located in Sinying District (新營) and the Tainan city government located in the Anping district (安平) throughout the year to manage the city.
The municipalities’ new administrative center must be large in order to help grow the area and attract helping hands for its development, Lai said
However, Lai said the timing and location of the new center has not been determine yer and there was need for more evaluations and planning on the specific details.
In Taipei, Hau pledged his determination to build Taipei as a energetic city through his policies on public housing, childbirth subsidies and a free wireless service aimed at supporting young people.
Hau, who was re-elected last year, defended his administration’s efforts to successfully improve the water quality of Tamsui River (淡水河), a major campaign policy during his first term, and raising the city’s international profile by holding large international events, such as the Deaflympics and the Taipei International Flora Expo.
In the next three years, Hau said his administration would address issues concerning the city’s young people by continuing major policy initiatives, including the construction of public housing units, offering childbirth subsidies to married couples and providing zero-interest loans for people under 40 who are preparing to start their own businesses.