The Taipei City Government yesterday introduced a modified version of its i-Voting online polling platform that allows people to submit proposals on issues to be voted on by the public, if they are approved by city officials and a public participatory committee.
The new platform allows people to submit proposals on issues they are concerned about, instead of the city government proposing polls, the Taipei Research, Development and Evaluation Commission said.
Approved proposals should be related to matters that affect people’s lives and not just be publicity stunts, the city government said, adding that it would allot a three-month period in which officials would redouble efforts to explain to the public the topics that are to be voted on.
Proposals from the public must garner 3,000 online signatures — 2,000 less than proposals for polls on the National Development Council’s Public Policy Network Participation Platform — within two months and pass the committee, as well as agency reviews, the commission said.
The outcome of a vote would be entirely or partially incorporated by the city government, it said.
The platform allows proposals to be made in a “bottom-up” manner, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said at a news conference promoting the system, reiterating his policy of an open government that merits civic engagement in policymaking.
The proposals must be about issues that are within the Taipei City Government’s purview, he said.
Asked whether the new platform would operate on a trial basis, Ko said that yesterday marked its official launch, but that it might take some time for the platform to be perfected, for example by facilitating the discussion between the city government and Taipei residents to provide people with a thorough understanding of issues they are to vote on.
The proposals are to be screened to rule out those that are not feasible, thereby ensuring that “good questions will lead to good answers,” Ko said.
As to whether the platform would be used to decide the future of the beleaguered Taipei Dome build-operate-transfer project, Ko said: “If Taipei residents are willing to budget more than NT$30 billion [US$987 million] to buy the Dome back just to tear it down, and they cast enough votes to carry it through, then of course I will oblige them.”
In an apparent attempt to dial down Ko’s answer, Taipei Mayor’s Office specialist Wang Pao-hsuan (王寶萱) said that a proposition to determine the Dome’s fate probably would not stand, as residents might not understand the contract the city signed with Dome contractor Farglory Group and the potentially negative effects should it be dissolved.
The Taipei Zoo submitted the first proposal, seeking earlier closing hours so that staff could have more time to care for animals and and pursue zoo-related learning.
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