The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Chiayi mayoral candidate Chen Yi-chen (陳以真) has based her campaign on the slogan “Our generation; Chiayi make its own future” and has made her main focus to start the city on a path of cultural creativity and sustainable population.
Chen, 37, is Nice Group Chen Jing-yao’s (陳鏡堯) daughter and rumored to be favored by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also serves as KMT chairman, and National Security Council Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰). She is considered by many to have considerable resources, both monetary and political, at her disposal.
However, Chen Yi-chen has said that the basic concept of “governing” was that it should be bottom-up and that the public have a large say in what the government should and could do.
“My family would not intervene in the election,” Chen Yi-chen said in an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).
“The will to enter into an election is one’s conscious choice and the people through the system of democracy determine the result,” she added, denying that she was handpicked by Ma and King.
According to Chen Yi-chen, Taiwanese have finally grasped the concept of consciousness of citizenship, meaning that there are no longer the distinctions of “the privileged” and “the common folk.”
Pointing out that Chiayi has been considered a hotbed of democracy in Taiwan, Chen Yi-chen said she trusted the residents of the city to have the autonomy to voice their opinions on city policy.
Chiayi used to be a hotbed of anti-KMT sentiment because of widespread killings there during the 228 Massacre. Former Chiayi mayor Hsu Shih-hsien (許世賢), an independent, was famous for resisting KMT authoritarian rule and fighting for democracy during the Martial Law era.
In December 2005, for the first time in decades, a non-independent candidate won the Chiayi mayoral race when then-KMT candidate Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠) was elected. Huang was re-elected in 2010.
Chen Yi-chen’s age and perceived lack of political positions — having only served as minister of the National Youth Commission — were causes of concern, to which she cited her experience as reporter, news anchor and governmental official in response.
Others also said that Chen Yi-chen has never served in any post in the city, but Chen said she is one of the younger generation coming back to Chiayi to teach, adding that her lack of experience in local government also meant that she was not burdened with baggage from the past.
“I bring a new form of thought, vitality to the office and the ability to act on policies,” Chen Yi-chen said, pointing to her record of having 3,000 applications by youths for entrepreneurship funding during her stint as National Youth Commission minister as proof of her executive ability.
She also campaigned for better protection of historical buildings, giving themes to parks, aiming for Chiayi to become a role model for low carbon emission cities and the construction of a light rail system.
She said she and her team were looking into how to establish a healthy and sustainable financial system for the city.
Urban planning, rezoning and expropriation of certain tracts of land are on her list of priorities to improve city finances, she said, adding that if she were elected, the city would also apply for central government subsidies for projects.
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