“We have restored Yilan’s pride because we are more cautious,” said Yilan County Commissioner Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢), who won back the county’s top office for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) four years ago, when explaining how he differs from the commissioner he defeated.
Having been a stronghold for the DPP and anti-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) activists since the 1980s, Yilan saw single-term former commissioner Lu Kuo-hua (呂國華) as its only KMT-affiliated county commissioner since 1981. Lu served from 2005 to 2009.
In an recent interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), Lin said that since his election in 2009, he had many achievements that the KMT was unable to accomplish, such as restoring the popular Yilan International Children’s Folklore and Folkgames Festival, which Lu suspended.
Lin said that in the past four years, he has insisted on pushing forward policies that he believes to be right despite encountering obstacles, such as banning chemical herbicides in farms and ending the use of unprocessed chicken manure as fertilizer.
Upon his inauguration, Lin said he discovered that the county government faced significant financial problems. The situation led him to make several urgent adjustments to rescue the county from needing financial “intensive care.”
“Another issue is that houses are rapidly increasing in rural Yilan,” Lin said, adding that the central government’s loosened regulations on farmhouse construction have led to a disaster in the county.
Yilan became the first county in the nation to regulate farmhouses and has cut down on the number of houses on farmland.
Lin said that he plans to run a campaign for the Nov. 29 elections built on policy platforms supporting green lifestyles and green industries, making environmental issues the focus of future policy actions.
Commenting on a recently approved straight-line railroad connecting Taipei and Yilan, Lin said “the Taipei-Yilan railroad line must also serve as a subway,” otherwise, railroad construction that costs NT$50 billion (US$1.6 billion) would not be too helpful if the only function is to save 18 minutes of travel time.
Regarding his KMT rival, Health Promotion Administration Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞), Lin said that “my only impression of her is that she is good at talking.”
“Chiou has criticized the high suicide rate in Yilan, but she forgets that suicide prevention is partly her agency’s responsibility,” Lin said, also chiding Chiou for not speaking out for Yilan when the county’s National Yang Ming University Hospital sought to be upgraded to a medical center.
Chiou also said that she is opposed to the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, but she is not acting accordingly, Lin said, asking how residents of Yilan could expect her to defend and promote their rights and welfare.
“You could see whether a person would be willing to stand with the public and make sacrifices to shoulder the responsibility of service,” Lin said.
He said that when the nation was affected by SARS in 2003, then-director of the Taipei Department of Health Chiou inspected a quarantine center at a hospital in Taipei while wearing full protective gear, while other medical personnel had nothing at all to guard against infection.
“Now Chiou is running for Yilan county commissioner because the president [Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is also KMT chairman] asked her to do so; I do not see her passion for the county,” Lin said.