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Taiwan government approves merger and upgrade of Tainan City and County

Taiwan government approves merger and upgrade of Tainan City and County

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Tainan City and County will merge and be upgraded to a higher municipal status despite disagreements within the review panel last week, the Cabinet announced Monday.
A 15-hour marathon session by a special review board last Tuesday unanimously approved an upgrade for Taipei County and mergers and upgrades for Taichung City and County and Kaohsiung City and County, but was divided on Tainan. A total of eight panelists approved of the Tainan merger, while six opposed it and the others failed to have a clear opinion, Interior Minister Liao Liou-yi said Monday.
The panel turned down requests from the counties of Taoyuan and Changhua for separate upgrades and from the counties of Yunlin and Chiayi for a merger and upgrade.
At a special meeting Monday however, the Cabinet decided to accept Tainan’s arguments that its rich history and role in the development of Taiwan’s history were sufficient to allow it an upgrade.
Relaying Premier Liu Chao-shiuan’s words to reporters after the meeting, Cabinet spokesman Su Jun-pin listed the advantages of the Tainan area, including its population of 1.87 million, its past as the first capital of Taiwan, its numerous historic monuments and the presence of high-tech and creativity parks. The Tainan area was a center of manufacturing, education and research for the South, and could later play an even more important role in cooperating with neighboring Yunlin and Chiayi counties, Su said.
The Cabinet spokesman also hinted that Taoyuan County should eventually make the grade because as its population was rapidly approaching 2 million, but he did not provide a timetable for the change.
In addition to the four changes approved by the government, Taipei City already holds special administrative status, so at the end of next year, Taiwan will count five areas directly under the central government.
Tainan City Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair welcomed the government decision, saying the central administration had finally heard the voices of the local population. Supporters of the merger lighted firecrackers outside the city government building.
The June 23 one-day review of the requests from 11 counties and cities has come under fire from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which has accused the government of putting political motives first.
Elections for county magistrates and city mayors in the approved areas will be postponed from the end of this year to late next year, giving extra breathing space to some embattled incumbents, in particular Taipei County’s Kuomintang magistrate Chou Hsi-wei.
The DPP accused the government of approving Taipei County’s upgrade to relieve pressure on Chou, who according to many opinion polls is facing a tough fight for re-election in the face of a possible challenge by former Premier Su Tseng-chang.
Earlier expectations had seen a merger of the county with Taipei City and Keelung City.
Another KMT stalwart, Jason Hu, originally reached the end of his final second term as mayor of Taichung City this December, but the change in status will allow him to run again for the post of chief executive for the new expanded Taichung.
The DPP has called for the publication of all discussions by the 25-member review panel about the different requests. The opposition has accused the government of following a pre-set agenda favoring KMT politicians.
The concentration of upgraded areas around the country’s major cities also invited accusations that the gap between rich and poor would grow as a result. The residents of the upgraded areas would enjoy better public services because of increased budgets, but the other counties and cities would fall further behind, the DPP said.

Updated : 2022-01-22 22:00 GMT+08:00