Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) has proposed amendments to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) to abolish the election of township mayors and representatives in non-Aboriginal townships in the nation’s 13 counties.
To simplify the local administrative hierarchy, Changhua and Nantou counties are already planning to abolish the election of townships mayors and councils, and authorize the county governments to appoint township mayors, while making council representatives non-paid advisers.
However, county governments are calling for amendments to apply nationwide.
Cheng said he proposed to abolish such elections in non-Aboriginal townships, while keeping those in Aboriginal townships to maintain Aboriginal autonomy.
The legislative general assembly has referred the proposed amendments to the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee and the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee for a joint review. If the amendments are passed, the Executive Yuan would decide on a date for them to take effect.
Cheng said the six special municipalities have three-quarters of the nation’s total population, while the combined population of the other 13 counties only accounts for one-quarter of the total population, with less resources, adding that it does not make sense for the counties to have a more complicated bureaucratic hierarchy than the six municipalities.
“The amendments might help to increase government efficiency and reduce corruption,” Cheng said.
He said that although the amendments might seem like a daunting task, abolishing the positions could save the government about NT$3 billion (US$91.56 million) each year, adding that township office buildings could be used by district offices, while township council buildings could be turned into long-term care centers.
Cheng said township councilors may run for city councilors or serve in other district office positions, citing as an example Taoyuan, which was upgraded from a county to a special municipality.
However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Chang Li-shan (張麗善) criticized the proposal, saying that many people living in areas with few resources might still need local representatives to be on call 24 hours a day to serve them, adding that if officials are appointed, they might not be as enthusiastic about serving the people, as they would not need to be worry about getting re-elected.
Chang also slammed the DPP for trying to abolish local elections after landslide victories in presidential, legislative and local government elections.
KMT Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said he does not oppose the proposal, but added that it is only a “halfway reform,” because the administrative and budget statuses of the 13 counties lag too far behind the six special municipalities.
“If you want to implement reform, you should propose a more integral reform,” Lin said.
Nantou County’s Jiji Township (集集) Mayor Chen Chi-heng (陳季衡) said that although he might lose his job if the amendments are passed, he still supports simplifying the administrative hierarchy.
Appointed officials would be bolder in pushing for reforms as they would not need to worry about getting re-elected, Chen said.
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