Taoyuan County will become the nation’s sixth special municipality, effective Dec. 25 next year, the Cabinet decided at a meeting yesterday.
Taiwan currently has five special municipalities after the upgrade of New Taipei City (新北市), previously named Taipei County, the upgrades of a merged Taichung County and Taichung City and a merged Tainan County and Tainan City and the incorporation of Kaohsiung County into Kaohsiung City, which all took effect in December 2010, along with Taipei.
The Cabinet meeting yesterday approved the proposal submitted by the Ministry of the Interior to upgrade Taiyuan County, after which it will enjoy greater autonomy and a larger budget.
Upgrading Taoyuan County, with more resources directed to its government, is expected to spur regional development in neighboring Hsinchu and Miaoli counties, Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) told the Cabinet meeting.
Taoyuan County first applied for upgraded status in 2009, but it was passed over in favor of Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan and Greater Tainan.
After it reached a population threshold of 2 million in June 2011, the county government adopted the same administrative and budgeting rules as special municipalities to show its determination to upgrade its status.
Aborigines in Fusing Township (復興) opposed the upgrade plan because they would lose some of their autonomy. Under the Local Government Act (地方制度法), administrative heads of sub-units of a municipal city, namely districts, are designated by the mayor of the municipality.
Currently, residents of townships in a county select their administrative chief and township representatives by popular vote.
Chen has instructed the Ministry of the Interior to ensure that Aborigines have the right to participate in political affairs after the upgrade, Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said. She did not elaborate.