Wed, Mar 25, 2015 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: William Lai talks about his ‘Tainan Brand’

Despite its limited financial resources compared to other special municipalities, Tainan in recent years has constantly been voted as the best city in the nation in media surveys rating residents’ sense of well-being and the performance of local governments. In a recent interview with ‘Taipei Times’ staff reporter Huang Tai-lin, Tainan Mayor William Lai talked about his approach to governance. In part one of a two-part interview, Lai discusses his aspiration to build the city into the nation’s cultural capital via city branding — the ‘Tainan brand’

Aside from all these, we also undertake systematic planning to repair and restore historical sites and historical architecture, and cooperate with the private sector in promoting the revitalization of old houses. We also use these historical and cultural elements to promote the development of cultural innovation.

TT: You’ve previously announced an initiative to push the English language as Tainan’s second official language. What concrete steps are being taken toward realizing this goal?

Lai: Culture is our root, and the English language is our tool, or see it as our foot, if you will. Given that language is the primary tool of communication, a lack of English proficiency hampers one from gaining an advantageous position in international competitiveness.

With culture as our roots and technology as our wings, we also need to be equipped with English proficiency to stay competitive. We’ve brought up this idea with the central government, which responded by saying there are difficulties [in implementing this policy]. Since Tainan was Taiwan’s first city and in the early days the door to the outside world, we are willing to take the initiative, in the span of a 10-year plan, to develop Tainan into the first city [in Taiwan] that uses English as its second official language.

To actualize this goal, first we will work to build an English-friendly environment in the city.

Second, we are contemplating the idea of, as a start, designating a school where a selected number of classes would all be taught in English. Aside from providing assistance to the private sector in enhancing English skills, the city government’s civic servants also ought be in step with the plan as well by working to polish their English proficiency.

Government documents are another area of focus. Right now, for example, government-issued certificates and contracts are in both Chinese and English, whereas in the past, they were in Chinese only.

It is the hope that after 10 years, Tainan city councilors will be able to question the mayor in English.

Part two of this interview will be published tomorrow.

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