Borough wardens worry over forced address relocations

By Weng Lu-huang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 - Page 3

Next year’s seven-in-one elections are causing borough wardens across Taipei to fret over the growing number of people that are being moved to their boroughs because they have neglected to change their permanent addresses.

The seven-in-one elections will be held throughout the nation for all directly elected local government positions.

The Household Registration Act (戶籍法) calls for the relocation to each administrative district’s office of all registered residencies of families or individuals who have moved or are currently abroad and who have not registered their current residential addresses as their permanent addresses.

Household registration office staff said that people have their permanent addresses moved to the household registration office because they are hiding from debtors or enemies, because they have gone missing or moved frequently, or because landlords do not agree to have their tenants register their addresses at the rented property as their permanent addresses.

Despite the household registration office’s use of national census and customs data, as well as labor and health insurance data and fines, to verify addresses, many people failed to register their addresses.

According to Taipei City’s Department of Civil Affairs, a total of 15,651 people had their residential addresses relocated to their district offices this year, which was a 20 percent increase from last year.

The administrative districts in the city with the most forced permanent address relocations are Zhongshan District’s (中山) Xingzheng Borough (行政) with 2,368 relocations, which comprise 26 percent of the borough’s total registered addresses; Wanhua District’s (萬華) Fufu Borough (富福) with 1,767 relocations making up 27 percent of the total; and Da-an District’s (大安) Longan Borough (龍安) with 1,690 forced permanent address relocations, making up about 20 percent of the total.

Longan Borough Warden Hung Chiu-chia (洪秋甲) said he had complained many times at the city government’s borough development meetings about the number of forced permanent address relocations and had asked the city government to come up with other solutions to the problem.

Hung said that forced permanent address relocations added 1,690 people to his borough and these individuals make up about 20 percent of the borough’s total population.

Individuals that had their permanent addresses forcibly relocated retain their rights to vote in borough warden elections, he said, adding that with the usual low turnout rate for small local elections, the individuals that had their permanent addresses forcibly relocated could easily shift the balance of the elections in a borough.

This is an issue that affects the fairness of elections, Hung said.

The Department of Civil Affairs said it has asked the Ministry of the Interior to look into the possibility of amending the Household Registration Act to help solve the problem.

However, the ministry indicated that it was inclined to continue with the current system, the department said.