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Taiwan: Five special municipalities to begin operation

Taiwan: Five special municipalities to begin operation

Five special municipalities across Taiwan with 60 percent of the country's population will begin operations today, kicking off a new phase in Taiwan's administrative history.

Taipei, Xinbei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung will begin operating as mega cities almost one month after the residents of the five municipalities chose their mayors in high profile elections on Nov. 27.

In addition to Taipei City and Xinbei City, the former Taipei County, the other three cities were expanded through a merger of two administrative districts.

Greater Taichung City is the result of a merger of Taichung City and Taichung County; Tainan a merger of Tainan City and Tainan County; and Kaohsiung a merger of Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County.

According to Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah, the change is aimed at making the five mega cities "spearheads of Taiwan's regional development" and "cores of the three living areas of northern, central and southern Taiwan."

The new system is not likely to affect the everyday life of the 13.7 million residents in the five cities, but integrating local governments and administrative branches are likely to present a big challenge in the cities where mergers took place.

Tainan and Kaohsiung both split their agencies into two parts to keep them in their original office buildings while Taichung City opted for three office buildings in different parts of its administrative area.

Effective today, townships and county-administered cities will also be renamed "districts" and villages will be renamed "wards." District chiefs will be appointed by mayors rather than being elected, as was previously the case.

Township councils will be disbanded, which means thousands of township and city councilmen have lost their jobs.

Newly elected mayors have focused on the financial aspects of the new city governments. Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu publicly expressed concerns that the city would be in financial trouble if budget allocating procedures and tax regulations were not reformed.

Xinbei City faced a different problem -- trying to figure out what to call itself in English.

Mayor Eric Liluan Chu wanted to change the new city's name to "New Taipei City," because Xinbei means "new Taipei" in Chinese.

But the move was blocked by the Ministry of the Interior for now, with Deputy Interior Minister Chien Tai-lang saying the ministry would discuss the proposal with Chu at a later date.

Updated : 2022-05-24 04:09 GMT+08:00